By Mike Lillis
The mayor of Murrieta, Calif., said Sunday his constituents were protecting illegal immigrants, not bashing them, when they protested the attempted arrival of migrants in their town this month.
"We expected the buses to enter the Border Patrol facility and the processing to take place there. What we object to is, we object to inhumane facilities. … Those are jail cells," Long said in an interview on CNN's "State of the Union" program.
"That facility can only process 25 [people] per eight-hour shift, and if you look at the numbers we're talking about, I think immigrants would have been queued up in a facility that does not have the ability or the capacity to hold them long-term, and that's just not right."
The argument would likely come as a surprise to the immigrants involved.
Murrieta churned countless headlines last week when a band of protestors — many waving American flags and shouting, "Go home" — blocked three busloads of immigrant mothers and children headed for a Border Patrol facility in the tiny conservative town roughly 90 miles southeast of Los Angeles.
The standoff led the Border Patrol to reroute the buses to another location.
Long said the police had planned to clear the road to allow the buses to proceed but simply didn't have the numbers to manage the large crowd. Reinforcements were on their way to the scene, Long said, but "the Border Patrol made the decision to divert the buses before that mutual aid showed up."
Suggesting the angriest protestors were not from Murrieta, Long said his town would welcome the immigrants back.
"I think most of the angry people that you saw protesting were from out of town. As I said, this is a national problem, and the world showed up on our doorsteps," Long said.
"Once these people are here, we need to treat them with compassion; we need to treat them with caring hearts," he added. "And I guarantee you that, if a bus were to arrive at the Murrieta border patrol, and those aliens were here, you would see that. We would treat them with compassion."