Migrant children describe fear of facing protesters

SAN DIEGO - 10News is getting the first account of what the children who arrived Tuesday dealt with Wednesday.

Local Rep. Juan Vargas sat down with 10News on Wednesday night, a few hours after he talked with Central American migrant children when he toured the U.S. Border Patrol facility in El Centro.

"These are kids," said Vargas. "A lot of them are 9, 10, 6, 5 … one of them was a 1-year-old. These are little kids."

The children are from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador whose parents told them to flee their homeland to escape the violence there.

Vargas was most interested in what they feared most about their painstaking journey to the United States.

"The plane," he said. "They've never been on a plane and they were going to fly here so they were afraid of the plane."

What Vargas says shocked him most was their greatest fear of all.

"These kids interestingly seem to be more afraid of the angry mob in Murrieta than the murderers down in Honduras," he said. "There's something wrong here."

Vargas says when they arrived in El Centro, they feared some American protestors might want to kill them.

"They thought they were going to get off the bus and have to run the gauntlet of these angry people, hitting them with signs and hitting them with clubs," he said. "They heard what happened in Murrieta, so they were terrified."

Some migrants have had to be hospitalized and quarantined with scabies and head lice at seven different San Diego County Border Patrol facilities.

Vargas, though, says he has seen firsthand U.S. Border Patrol agents going above and beyond to make sure the children, who are thousands of miles from home, are being treated as if they were their own while due process takes its course.

"People forget this, the Border Patrol agents, a lot of them are parents," he said. "I mean, they brought things. They had diapers there for the kids. They brought things from their own family."

Planes carrying migrants are expected every three days. Another 140 are expected on Friday.

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