Over 100 people gathered outside city hall in Murrieta, California, on Wednesday evening to support and show solidarity for the unaccompanied migrant children who have been arriving in Texas. In a statement, members of the vigil referred to the unaccompanied immigrant children as refugees and expressed their desire for the people of Murrieta, Southern California and America as a whole to welcome them with compassion and understanding.
The peaceful vigil-holders were also met by a small contingent of anti-immigration protestors. A group of roughly five individuals arrived at the vigil, highly outnumbered, carrying American flags and occasionally yelling things such as “We speak English here.” One of them wore a T-shirt emblazoned with “Border Patrol.”
Nonetheless, the vigil was thought of as a success. A collection was taken up near the center of the group gathering food, clothing, money and other donations for the families of the migrant children. A couple from Guatemala, Elva and Angel Rosales, addressed the crowd in Spanish, telling parts of their story of coming to America. Their infant son was with them at the vigil, though Elva told the group of her other two children, 7 and 10 years old, who are currently being held at a detention center in Texas. Through tears, Elva thanked the group for their support and stated that she only wanted to be reunited with her children.
Fernando Romero, a member of the Justice for Immigrants Coalition of Inland Southern California, was present at the vigil and told the Press Enterprise that he hoped the demonstration could draw attention to the root causes of immigration.
“A lot of these children and family members are going to be turned around and sent back,” Romero told the source. “There was no addressing of the reasons why these folks are coming here in the first place.”
The vigil came only a few days after President Barack Obama asked Congress to approve a $3.7 billion emergency spending budget to aid in dealing with the rapid influx of unaccompanied Central American children into Texas.