Children holding stuffed animals joined activists, clergy, attorneys and other community members Wednesday in San Diego to show support for those undocumented women and children who were blocked from an immigration facility by a crowd of angry protesters.
“These are our children. Before we were us, we were them," said Enrique Morones, Director of Border Angels, a non-profit based in San Diego.
“It is absolutely wrong what is taking place.”
Morones was in Riverside County and witnessed the confrontation Tuesday between three buses carrying close to 140 undocumented immigrants and a group of protesters holding American flags and signs and chanting anti-immigration slogans.
“What I saw was one of the worst things I’ve seen in my life,” Morones said. “We saw the worst of the American spirit.”
Border Angels is collecting donations of food, clothing, toys and other supplies for the thousands of immigrants expected to arrive in San Diego County over the next several weeks.
The undocumented immigrants are being flown to California from Texas in an attempt to relieve overcrowded conditions in U.S. Customs and Border Protection housing made even more overwhelming by an influx of unaccompanied minors.
The situation has been described as a “humanitarian crisis” by the Obama administration.
CBP officials said the approximate 140 women and children that arrived in California Tuesday are undergoing pre-screening for health issues at various locations in San Diego County.
Once they are processed, officials with Immigration and Customs Enforcement will decide who can be released while awaiting deportation proceedings.
Hundreds of emails and phone calls from people willing to help the families have come in to San Diego according to Morones.
He has even received a call from a woman living in Hawaii offering to house someone.
Among those who spoke at Wednesday's news conference was Rev. Dr. Beth Johnson with Palomar Unitarian who called for people to find compassion for those seeking help from the U.S.
“Each and every person has inherent worth and dignity,” Johnson said. “Let us be the people that reach out in love and that stand on the side of love.”
Armando Telles with the American GI Forum called on veterans to join the movement and help protect the children – both from outside American borders and within the U.S.
“Our children are learning and watching what we are doing. Be an example we can live with,” Telles said.
Casa Familiar, a community organization in San Ysidro, announced Wednesday it was offering an auditorium and large commercial kitchen that could house 250 individuals if needed.