SAN DIEGO - A Border Patrol agents union representative told 10News the influx of undocumented immigrants now in Border Patrol custody is threatening the health of agents as well as national security.
"We have compassion for them …," said union representative Ron Zermeno.
At about 12:45 a.m. Wednesday, one of the buses pulled out of the checkpoint and onto a freeway. Two people sitting behind the driver appeared to be Border Patrol agents wearing masks. 10News could not confirm if any children were on the bus. As 10News was trying to follow the bus onto a freeway, Border Patrol SUVs blocked the entrance to the freeway.
Zermeno told 10News Wednesday morning that 99 migrants were transported to various San Diego Sector Border Patrol stations for processing. According to Zermeno, 40 had been taken to Brown Field Station in Otay Mesa. Forty-two were taken to the Imperial Beach Station, and 17 to the Boulevard Station in southeast San Diego County.
Zermeno said Border Patrol agents were being pulled off the line to help with processing the immigrants. Zermeno told 10News this could pose a safety issue due to less agents on the street.
Meanwhile, 40 were being quarantined at the Border Patrol Chula Vista Station with active scabies and head lice. The facility will provide them with showers, laundry service and bedding. Another 10 people, mostly children, were taken to local hospitals with unknown illnesses.
"That's my biggest fear: their health and also safety in the field," said Zermeno.
Zermeno told 10News pulling agents could put national security on the line, adding, "The morale is the lowest I've ever seen it."
Zermeno said he just wants to protect his agents and the border, as well as expose the truth because exposure seems to be a growing concern.
"I think the public needs to be aware. The average citizens [are not] aware because they could be exposed tomorrow.
A handful of demonstrators remained outside a U.S. Border Patrol facility in Murrieta overnight Tuesday after large crowds forced a bus carrying undocumented immigrants to reverse course and head down to a San Ysidro checkpoint.
The buses were carrying 140 migrants, mostly lone children, who had come up from Central America through Texas. The migrants were flown on a U.S. government charter flight from Texas to San Diego International Tuesday afternoon, and then bused to a U.S. Border Patrol facility in Murrieta, a town in Riverside County.
After being unable to pull into the USBP facility in Murrieta, the three Department of Homeland Security buses left and drove down to a Customs and Border Protection facility in San Ysidro.
The U.S. is seeing a surge of immigrants from Central America through Texas 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. 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.
The immigrants are being spread out to different sectors to alleviate pressure on the stations on the front lines. The immigrants could be flown in from Texas to San Diego on charter flights up to twice a week, although that was not confirmed.
In an news conference Monday, President Obama 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.
After being processed, the migrants will be turned over to U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE). Those planning on staying with family members or friends across the country will be taken to bus terminals or airports -- but will be required to report to the nearest ICE facility for case management.
Zermeno said the immigrants will continue to be distributed among the other San Diego Sector Border Patrol facilities, which could include El Cajon, El Centro, Chula Vista, Campo, Boulevard or San Clemente.
According to a news release Tuesday, 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.”