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Demonstrators gather on Valencia Boulevard

Posted: July 19, 2014 9:44 p.m.
Updated: July 19, 2014 9:44 p.m.

Richard Cowell of Valencia, left, holds a sign while standing with a small group protesting illegal immigration on Saturday.

 

Valencia Boulevard served as both the metaphorical and literal dividing line on the issue of illegal immigration and the recent border surge this weekend, as demonstrators on both sides of the issue turned out to state their positions on Saturday.

As thousands of unaccompanied immigrant children have poured into South Texas, community leaders from Dallas to Los Angeles to Syracuse, N.Y., have offered to set up temporary shelters to relieve the Army bases, holding cells and converted warehouses at the border.

The outreach offers stand in sharp contrast to other places around the country, where some protested having immigrants from Central America come to their towns while the nation’s leaders attempt to find solutions to the issue.

The two sides set up on either side of the Valencia Boulevard overpass on Interstate 5 on Saturday. About 15 to 20 people stood on each side.

On one side hung a banner that read, “repatriate illegal aliens,” surrounded by demonstrators who waived signs reading, “stop illegal immigration.”

On the other side, demonstrators waived signs declaring that “xenophobia sucks” and urging “compassion for all children.”

Both sides waived a collection of American flags.

“President Obama’s administrative amnesty, he’s basically told the world that if you come here he will not deport you,” said Greg Aprahamian, a protester. “So we’re getting a wave of illegal immigrants — 50,000 in the last two months — and he’s resettling them in relocation centers all over the country.

“We’re here to say no,” he continued. “We want the illegal aliens repatriated.”

Berta Gonzalez-Harper, who said she is a first-generation American born of two legal immigrants, said those who want to come to the United States must do so legally.

“Our resources must be for those people in this country legally, whether born here or naturalized or on visas or whatever,” she said. “But not people who have trespassed our borders, thumbed their nose at our laws and demanded rights that I, a native-born American citizen, do not get myself.”

On the other side of the road was another side of the issue.

“These kids are refugees fleeing dangerous situations,” said Carole Lutness of Valencia. “They have a right to due process; they have a right for their case to be heard by a court so that it can be determined whether or not they are given sanctuary.”

Alberto Posadas of Murrieta echoed the point.

“If we don’t want that due process, then we should change the law,” he said. “But until that law changes we have a human tragedy on our hands and we need to abide by the law.”

Saturday’s protest was scheduled as one of hundreds throughout the nation in conjunction with the “National Day of Protesting Against Immigration Reform, Amnesty and Border Surge,” according to organizers.

More than 57,000 unaccompanied children have been apprehended since October, the Border Patrol says. Three-fourths of them are from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, and say they are fleeing pervasive gang violence and crushing poverty. By the time they have reached South Texas, they have survived a treacherous journey through drug-war-torn Mexico.

President Obama has asked Congress to authorize $3.7 billion in emergency spending to increase enforcement at the border, build more facilities to temporarily house the unaccompanied minors, and beef up legal aid. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest has said the government will entitle due process but will not guarantee a “welcome to this country with open arms.”

Signal Photo Editor Dan Watson and The Associated Press contributed reporting to this story.

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