SAN DIEGO - A plane carrying 140 undocumented immigrants, including lone children, landed at Lindbergh Field in San Diego Tuesday afternoon amid a brewing crisis over a surge of Central Americans crossing the U.S. border to escape poverty and crime in their home countries.
The charter jet from Texas left McAllan International Airport Tuesday morning. The immigrants were set to be bussed to Murrieta, where they would be processed at a Border Patrol office.
Awaiting them in Murrieta will be protesters.
This comes after President Obama in a news conference Monday called the spike in immigrants crossing into the U.S. through Texas a "humanitarian crisis." On Monday, he asked for more than $2 billion to help with the situation. The president said he will go around Congress and shift resources to the border by the end of summer.
The U.S. is seeing a surge of immigrants from Central America due to rampant crime there, with a large number of those being unaccompanied children who are seeking to join their families.
Hondurans, Salvadorans and Guatemalans are making up about 75 percent of those caught in South Texas. Authorities arrested more than 47,000 unaccompanied children on the border from October 2013 through May 2014, up 92 percent from the same period a year earlier, according to The Associated Press. Unlike Mexicans who can be deported the same day with a short bus ride, Central Americans must be sent home on U.S. government flights, an expensive process.
New photos show Texas facilities overflowing with people, many of them children from dangerous parts of Central America. The immigrants are being spread out to different sectors to alleviate pressure on the stations on the front lines.
Along with San Diego, another 140 immigrants being flown into Yuma, Ariz., and transferred to Border Patrol facilities in El Centro, Calif. The flights will likely continue indefinitely, with thousands of immigrants expected to come through the processing facilities.
10News learned that security and escorts for each flight costs about $70,000.
In a statement Tuesday, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) provided details regarding how the immigrants would be processed:
“U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) El Centro and San Diego sectors are about to begin assisting with the processing of migrants apprehended in South Texas, many of whom are adults with children,” the statement read. “Upon completion of CBP processing, CBP will transfer certain individuals to ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO), where appropriate custody determinations will be made on a case-by-case basis, prioritizing national security and public safety."
According to the news release, after being screened by the Department of Human Services, the immigrants might be released with instructions to report to an ICE office within 15 days. Some could be allowed to stay under the Alternatives to Detention (ATD) program. According to ICE, ATD is a “flight-mitigation tool that uses technology and case management to increase compliance with release conditions and facilitate alien compliance with court hearings and final orders of removal while allowing aliens to remain in their community.”