MURRIETA, CA. (CNN) – Two southern towns have very different reactions to illegal immigrants. The indelible image of the immigration battle in California.
Murrieta, California blocking the front of the border patrol station from three buses of central American undocumented immigrants.
The buses forced to turn around.
Almost 200 miles away, planes from Texas land ferrying mostly undocumented women and children.
They move to buses, which arrived to an open and quiet border patrol station in El Centro.
They’re moved to local charities temporarily sheltering the women and children and even help toddlers like Rudy and his mother board buses to family waiting in Washington State.
Two cities in the same state, same issue, two completely different reactions, and demographics may help explain why.
Murrieta sits more than 85 miles from the international border, 70% of the city is white.
The bedroom community of San Diego is relatively affluent, with only 7% of households below the poverty line.
El Centro sits a stone’s throw from the border, only several miles away, over 80% of the city is Latino.
Its economy relies on Mexican tourists and immigrants and struggles, with 25% below the poverty line.
“When you watch television and you see what’s happening in Murrieta, what’s your impression of that?”
“I think it’s pretty sad,” said Mayor Efrain Silva.
El Centro’s mayor pro tem is himself a Mexican immigrant. His city, he says, is on the front line of the border crisis and sees the desperation up close.
“Are they thinking about the people on the bus? In your opinion?”
“They’re thinking about them, but in the wrong way from my perspective,” said Mayor Alan Long. “I don’t necessarily condone the activities, but it’s not up to us to decide what happens to them. It’s up to us to provide an environment that’s safe and healthy.”
Murrieta’s mayor says you can’t compare the two cities, they’re too different.
He also believes the ugliest elements of the protests are not from his residents, but outsiders coming in.
“The world never got to see the compassion that Murrieta has and what we’re known for,” Mayor Silva continued.
A tale of two cities, two reactions to a border crisis that’s not going away.