Protestors carrying signs and U.S. flags blocked three buses carrying undocumented children and families to an immigration processing facility in Southern California.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials turned the caravan around and headed southbound, arriving to the U.S. Border Patrol Station Chula Vista in San Diego County.
Some Murrieta residents have criticized the transfer of the women and children to Riverside County from Texas where conditions have been described as overwhelming and overcrowded due to a recent influx of unaccompanied minors along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Federal officials transported the women and children, some just infants, on an airplane that landed just after noon at San Diego’s Lindbergh Field.
The undocumented immigrants were then bused approximately 90 minutes north to Murrieta, a city that has not exactly rolled out the red carpet ahead of the unprecedented transfer of children and families.
Murrieta Mayor Alan Long spoke out Monday against the plan, suggesting that national leaders "put a stop to it so we stop having to manage their headache."
Murrieta resident Sandy Pina met protestors outside the facility because she was angry to see the way the children were being treated.
“They’re on our doorstep. Now we have to do something for them,” she said. “They’re children.”
Around 4:30 p.m., the carvan of buses arrived at the CBP facility just north of the U.S.-Mexico border.
The immigrants were expected to be returned to Murrieta later Tuesday evening. Agents say they will sleep there for a maximum of three days.
Then, immigration officials are expected to take them in unmarked vans to drop them off at bus depots in Paris, Riverside and Murrieta. But officials said they have to turn themselves in later to appear in immigration court.
"They should've been off the bus already. These poor people have been traveling all day. Now, the Border Patrol management has decided to keep them on a bus, it's ridiculous," said National Border Patrol Council Union Representative Ron Zermeno.
In his opinion, the administration should house these people in Texas and process them there.
"It's not over," Zermeno said. "In 72 hours, they're going to send another 140 to San Diego."
Once the undocumented children are processed, they and their families will be turned over to ICE agents. There were no plans to release them in Murrieta, Long said.
ICE officials said those who planned to stay with family or friends across the country will be transported to bus terminals or airports so they can go to their final destinations. They will then be required to report to the nearest ICE office, where their cases will be managed.
Donations were piling Monday up at the San Diego headquarters for Border Angels, a non-profit organization whose volunteers work to prevent deaths of undocumented immigrants traveling through the deserts and mountains east of San Diego.
The group's executive director Enrique Morones was working to organize donations like food and toiletries for the children and families who were scheduled to arrive.
“If we truly are America’s Finest City, like people like to say, it’s time we show it. It’s important we welcome these kids that are coming,” Morones said.
Morones said if the children were from Canada, there would be no question about helping them, and he invoked the message of the Emma Lazarus poem inscribed below the Statue of Liberty.
"It's important that we practice the creed of 'Give me your poor, your tired, your huddled masses' even if you're not coming from across Atlantic," Morones said.
He also urged other minorities to think back to their ancestors and their arrival through Ellis Island before exclusion acts and quota laws were put in place.
But conservative activist and blogger Rhonda Deniston is concerned the influx of undocumented children could impact public health and strain border patrol.
"We're putting huge burdens on our Border Patrol, where they cannot effectively secure our borders because they're dealing with this crisis," Deniston said.
Morones and Deniston did agree on one thing: That the U.S. immigration system needs to be fixed.
Deniston said she'd like to see immigration reform to help bring more engineers and great minds into the workforce. She said politicians from both parties need to enforce the laws on the books instead of ignoring them for political reasons, whether to exploit cheap labor or to woo minority voters.
Border patrol agents say they will process the undocumented immigrants as fast as they can because they are expecting a busload of another 140 coming in the next three days.