Hundreds of U.S. sites are set for anti-immigration demonstrations today and tomorrow, Saturday, July 19. The coordinated protests are being billed as: “The National Day of Protest Against Immigration Reform, Amnesty and Border Surge,” and if you live in a U.S. city, there’s a chance one is happening near you. The protests are organized in partnership with ALIPAC, an anti-immigration organization, and tea party groups. More than 45 are planned to take place across California alone. The Murrieta Border Patrol station, which organizers describe as, the facility “where Americans turned back buses of illegals,” will host protestors as well.
As I reported for in my dispatch from Murrieta, Calif., the city where all these recent protests against child migrants began, the situation is a complex one which draws out folks who consider the recent flows of child refugees a threat to the nation’s identity.
“We have some racists, some bigots in Murrieta. Of course we do,” Rev. Jack Barker of Murrieta’s St. Martha Catholic Church told a crowd of 200 gathered at an evening pro-migrant vigil in front of City Hall last Wednesday, urging the public not to let the angry citizen blockades define the city’s reputation. “But we’re very typical middle America,” Barker said. “We kind of are a microcosm of America in many ways.”
What protestors outside the Border Patrol station voiced is not so much a nostalgia for the past as it is a longing for political control in a rapidly changing social landscape. After all, social upheaval and demographic change is the very history of the U.S. In recent years in Murrieta, that change has been particularly swift. Murrieta is a whiter town than the rest of the state—56 percent of the city’s population is white compared with 40 percent of California’s. But those dynamics are quickly changing.