Congressmen weigh in on child immigrants

SAN DIEGO - Two local Democratic congressman and the leader of a Latino Republican group called Thursday on the House of Representatives to take action on comprehensive immigration reform legislation.

The comments by Rep. Juan Vargas, D-San Diego; Rep. Scott Peters, D-San Diego; and Ruben Barrales, the president of Grow Elect, came amid controversy over the treatment of 140 Central American women and children brought to Southern California after crossing into the border illegally in Texas.

They were flown to San Diego Tuesday and bused to a federal facility in the southern Riverside community of Murrieta, but were turned away by anti-immigrant protestors. The migrants were transported to San Ysidro, where Vargas visited with them and inspected their conditions.

"The facilities here are not the best, frankly. They're old facilities, but the Border Patrol is doing the best they can," Vargas told reporters. "I saw a lot of car seats the Border Patrol agents themselves have brought here to make sure when the children are transported, they're transported safely. I've seen formula there that they bought, and they brought in clothes."

Vargas said it was high time the U.S. government did something.

"The recent increase in unaccompanied minors and families only further highlights the need for comprehensive immigration reform," Vargas said.

At an immigration reform rally at UC San Diego, Peters said it was "kind of a tragic situation" for the children.

"They should be reunited with their families," Peters said. "They should be reunited with their families in their home countries. We should do that in as humane a way as they possibly can."

Barrales, who wants to draw Latinos into the Republican Party, called the situation on the border a "humanitarian crisis" because it involves children and families.

"We obviously need to address that issue immediately," Barrales told a local TV station. "We have a longer-term issue in immigration reform that we really need to get right, and we're asking for our leaders in Washington, D.C., to help us fix this broken immigration system."

A plane with another 140 undocumented immigrants on board is expected to arrive in San Diego on Friday.

The detainees are among tens of thousands of people from points south who entered the United States through Texas this year, according to U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement officials.

The Border Patrol's Rio Grande Valley sector has been overwhelmed by the arrivals, prompting the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to seek other locations to send them until their cases can be assessed.

On Monday, President Barack Obama ordered resources moved to border stations. He also urged Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to come up with solutions that do not need congressional authorization.

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