‘Go back home!’: Nativist hypocrisy in the Murrieta protests

Anti-immigrant activists slow deportation proceedings, obstruct the very enforcement they demand

As officials continue to work on solving the humanitarian crisis at the U.S/Mexico border, anti-immigrant activists have become increasingly brazen in their opposition to the rights of children and families fleeing violence in Central America.

This came to an ugly head last week as anti-immigrant activists in Murrieta, California, prevented Homeland Security from transferring nearly 150 migrants to a Border Patrol facility for processing. A group of about 50 protesters stood in the street waving American flags and chanting phrases such as “Go back home!” and “We don’t want you here!” to immigrants aboard the buses. Police and Border Patrol officials failed to disperse the crowd — though, it appears little effort was made — and the buses eventually reversed, travelled to another facility near San Diego.

In dealing with many of these children escaping violence, border patrol officials are required under federal law to screen the children and transfer them to the Office of Refugee Resettlement. Because of the current numbers of migrant apprehensions in the Rio Grande Valley, local facilities where such screenings and transferring would normally occur are far too crowded to humanely care for these children. Thus, many of them and their families are being moved to other processing facilities across the country.

The irony of anti-immigrant activists obstructing enforcement of the very immigration laws they so frequently call for — and slowing deportation proceedings for many migrants — appears to be lost on nativists. As such, actions so clearly evidence the anti-immigrant movement’s utter lack of respect and empathy for these children. The movement’s responses to these public manifestations of nativist zeal also reveal a hypocrisy. After all, less than one year ago, the movement was deriding similar demonstrations by pro-migrant advocates.

NumbersUSA aids protests with interactive map

What are the odds of a group like the anti-immigrant Federation for American Immigration Reform denouncing Murrieta protesters as having “strained taxpayer-funded resources and hampered the police’s ability to protect citizens in emergency situations?” Indeed, that’s exactly how the group’s government relations team responded in a November 5, 2013, blog to pro-migrant protests at ICE facilities that blocked buses carrying soon-to-be-deported immigrants.

Instead, anti-immigrant groups are expressing a tacit approval of the obstruction evidenced in Murrieta. NumbersUSA has even released an interactive map of “where feds are trying to relocate illegal border surgers.” The map, apparently being updated daily by NumbersUSA staff, indicates where officials’ plans to house apprehending migrants for processing have been “considered,” “implemented,” and “blocked.” Naturally, the map indicates Murrieta in the latter category. In recent weeks, NumbersUSA has also urged members to send fax messages to their elected officials to “[p]lease make sure the government doesn’t try to house illegal aliens in our state.”

In a July 2 blog post, Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) communications director Margueritte Telford wrote, “It looks like some citizens in California have had enough.” Telford added, “Americans are rightly worried about the impact of so many illegal aliens entering this country.”

Americans should also be rightly worried about the welfare of these children and families fleeing violence. In this humanitarian crisis, the safety and rights of these vulnerable migrants should be our first priority – not anti-immigrant fear mongering and obstruction.

 

Image Source: The Houston Daily Digest (aggregated)