Undocumented Women, Children Face Angry Protests in California

Screening process by federal officials was expected to begin for many of the women and children at the U.S. Border Patrol Station Chula Vista

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Undocumented immigrants met by angry protesters once they arrived in California Tuesday were moved overnight to other federal centers to begin the process of requesting admission to the U.S.

    U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents moved one of the buses used to transport the women and children from its station located in San Ysidro around 12:20 a.m. Wednesday.

    NBC 7 followed the bus eastbound along State Route 905 but our news crew was stopped when CBP agents blocked the highway entrance to traffic.

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    The women and children were flown into San Diego Tuesday via chartered plane, destined for a CBP processing facility in Murrieta, but protestors chanting anti-immigration slogans blocked their arrival.

    As of Wednesday, 40 immigrants were being detained at the Brownfield Station in Otay Mesa, 42 were sent to Imperial Beach Station, 17 were moved to the Boulevard Station and 40 are in quarantine in Chula Vista, according to the Border Patrol's health and safety director Ron Zermeno.

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    Tension has mounted as a group of protesters blocked buses carrying undocumented immigrant children traveling to Murrieta. Instead, the bus had to turn around and head to the Chula Vista Border Patrol Station, as NBC 7's Omari Fleming and Liberty Zabala report.

    U.S. Rep. Juan Vargas (D-Calif.) visited with some of the immigrants at the El Centro Customs and Border Protection Station.

    "Federal officers were allowed to do their jobs in a peaceful and appropriate manner," Vargas said.

    About 140 women and children from Central America had been transferred to California from Texas Tuesday to help alleviate overcrowding in federal facilities along the U.S.-Mexico border.

    The number of unaccompanied children crossing into the U.S. – some younger than 13 – has spiked recently, in what President Barack Obama has called a "humanitarian crisis."

    San Diego-based agents report seeing 642 minors crossing the border this year – a 55 percent increase over last year.

    There aren't enough facilities in the U.S. to house the children, and so the Obama administration has ordered accomodations be made available at various locations like Port Hueneme, California.

    According to Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials, San Diego has 25 beds designated for these children.

    Medical personnel will screen the women and children – some just infants – and provide necessary treatment.

    Ten detainees were taken to local hospitals overnight, including three children taken to Rady Children's Hospital, Zermeno said. Rady Children’s Hospital told NBC 7 that no undocumented children were treated there.

    The rest of the immigrants were given the opportunity to eat and shower at the San Ysidro station.

    Meanwhile, several people stood outside holding signs in support of those detained inside.

    “We will be remembered for how we treat the most needy and poorest among us, and I hope that this country can come around,” said San Ysidro resident Antonio Fahme. “Those children need to know that not everybody here feels the way those protesters did in Murrieta.”

    The preliminary screening processes can take up to four hours per person, according to National Border Patrol Council Union Representative Ron Zermeno.

    Once that screening process is complete, officials with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) were expected to take the women and children to bus depots in Perris, Riverside and Murrieta using unmarked vans.

    ICE officials said those released must attend an immigration hearing at a later date.