Murrieta lawmaker asks for Gov. Brown's help on immigration unrest

Murrieta lawmaker asks for Gov. Brown's help on immigration unrest
A U.S. Border Patrol agent keeps watch outside the entrance to the Border Patrol facility in Murrieta during a protest there Monday. (Robyn Beck /AFP/Getty Images)

Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez called on Gov. Jerry Brown Wednesday to provide state resources for public safety in Murrieta, where recent protests over the housing of migrant detainees have served as a flash point in the debate over illegal immigration.

Melendez, a Republican whose district includes Murrieta, demanded Brown immediately contact Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson to find out how long the federal government intends to bring the migrants -- predominantly women and children from Central America -- to the city's Border Patrol station for processing.


"I understand that they're trying to identify the best places to handle these immigrants," Melendez said to reporters Wednesday morning. "I honestly don't understand why they chose Murrieta."

"My plea with the governor is: Find out what the end date is," she added. "What's the plan? What's the strategy? You can't do this in perpetuity."

Federal officials said last week that 140 immigrants, primarily those detained on the Texas border, would be transferred to Murrieta every 72 hours for processing. They would then be released into the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents.

But officials have since been mum on details on the detainees' movements, citing safety concerns. Three convoys have been delivered to facilities in San Diego county, instead of Murrieta.

Melendez said the city also needed additional public safety resources to supplement the local law enforcement officers who have been dealing with protestors.

Last week, protests blocked the arrival of detained immigrants to a federal processing center in the city. Since then, the site has been home to large and rancorous demonstrations and counter-demonstrations.

"We have our law enforcement who are at the Border Patrol station instead of out patrolling the streets," Melendez said.

Although she said she was not claiming there was a "criminal crisis" as a result of the clashes, she suggested Brown could call in the National Guard to bolster local law enforcement or declare a state of emergency to make financial resources available.

"It's up to the governor to decide, but I think all actions should be on the table," she said.

Melendez, who sent a letter to Brown calling for his assistance, said she has not had any direct communication with him about her request.

Nancy Ward, chief deputy director of the Governor's Office of Emergency Services, said in a statement Wednesday afternoon that "while this situation remains the primary responsibility of the federal government, our office continues to work closely with both federal and local law enforcement officials."

"In fact, long before today's press conference, local CHP officers assisted with limited crowd and traffic control at the request of local officials," Ward said. "We will continue to offer assistance to local law enforcement as it's needed."

Times staff writer Matt Hansen contributed to this report.

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