Southern California city becomes latest flashpoint in escalating immigration debate

Matt Hamilton / The Associated Press
July 3, 2014 03:44 PM

Immigration activist Amarily Ortiz, director of Confederacion Centro Americana (COFECA) demands the Mexican government to take more measures to protect and respect the rights of unaccompanied minors and families crossing Mexico's territory, during a protest outside the Mexican consulate in Los Angeles Thursday, July 3, 2014. Activists demand support of migrant children and families Thursday, two days after U.S. Homeland Security buses carrying the migrants were routed away from American flag-waving protesters in Murrieta, Calif., and transported to a facility in San Diego. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

LOS ANGELES, Calif. - When American flag-waving protesters forced busloads of immigrants to leave Murrieta this week, the Southern California city became the latest flashpoint in an intensifying immigration debate.

The mayor of the fast-growing community in the conservative-leaning Inland Empire region urged residents to speak out against the federal government's handling of thousands of Central American children and families flooding the Texas border.

A day later, protesters blocked the road to a Murrieta border patrol facility where a group of immigrants were taken to be processed.

Another demonstration is planned for Friday.

The reaction to the influx of immigrants fleeing violence in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras has been varied across the Southwest. In some communities, immigrant advocates have been collecting donations and trying to help immigrants reunite with family.

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