The Southern California city whose Border Patrol office will soon see an influx of hundreds of migrants has been tasked with managing the federal government’s “headaches,” its mayor said Monday.
As the city of Murrieta prepares for 140 migrants flying in from Texas Tuesday, Mayor Alan Long addressed the two dozen citizens who confronted him about what the surge means for their community.
"This hasn't been done before,” said Long, “and we're trying to get the information -- accurate information -- out to the public the best way we know how and as soon as we can."
Murrieta holds one of the Border Patrol offices ordered to relieve congestion at Texas’ Rio Grande Valley sector, which has seen thousands of Central Americans cross the U.S.-Mexico border in recent months.
To aid the Texas area, the Border Patrol will fly 140 migrants into San Diego, screen them and take them by bus to Murrieta every two days so local agents can process them. The first plane is scheduled to land at 11 a.m. Tuesday.
The city learned of the transfers on Friday and has been in constant contact with the local Border Patrol office since then to prepare for the migrants’ arrival, according to Long.
While the transfers present an unprecedented situation for Murrieta, it is within officials’ capacity to handle, Long said. Still, the mayor agreed with concerned citizens who voiced their opposition to the move Monday.
"But the true solution to this would be a collaborative effort of a region standing up and sending a message to Washington, D.C. to put a stop to it so we stop having to manage their headache,” said Long.
The groups from Texas are primarily comprised of families, and none have criminal records, Long assured his residents.
After processing, the migrants will be turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, who will take them to undisclosed destination points that Long called “sensitive information.”
"There is not and never has been any intention to release these immigrants locally out the front door of our local border patrol office,” said Long.
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.
The only ICE detention center equipped to handle families is in Pennsylvania, according to officials.
Murrieta’s City Council plans to address the issue of migrant transfers at their meeting Tuesday, and the city has scheduled a town hall Wednesday where residents can again air their concerns.
Meanwhile, hope to stop the wave of migrants with federal comprehensive immigration reform looks dim, President Barack Obama conceded in a speech Monday.
He said last week, House Speaker John Boehner told him the House will not vote on an immigration bill until next year.
In response, the president announced he will use his power – within its legal limits – to make his own policy changes.
"I take executive action only when we have a serious problem, a serious issue, and Congress chooses to do nothing," Obama said. "And in this situation, the failure of House Republicans to pass a darn bill is bad for our security, it's bad for our economy and it's bad for our future."
He has instead instructed Homeland Security Department Secretary Jeh Johnson and Attorney General Eric Holder to move their resources from the interior to the border for increased security.
Obama also told the leaders to bring him recommendations by the end of the summer on ways he can use his executive actions to relieve immigration problems.
But Boehner claims the president’s own executive orders led to the humanitarian crisis along the Southern border, according to a statement released after Obama’s speech.
“In our conversation last week, I told the president what I have been telling him for months: the American people and their elected officials don't trust him to enforce the law as written,” his statement read. “Until that changes, it is going to be difficult to make progress on this issue.”