Immigration protests swept the nation Friday and were set to continue over the weekend.
Dozens of anti-illegal immigration demonstrations were scheduled to be held Saturday across the U.S. on highway overpasses and outside state capital buildings and Mexican consulates. The events have been dubbed the “National Day of Protesting Against Immigration Reform, Amnesty & Border Surge.”The organizers’ website called demonstrations “the largest coordinated protest against all forms of amnesty, comprehensive immigration reform, and the government’s failure to enforce immigration laws and secure our borders.”
Pro-immigration reform protests have also been staged in recent days.
More than 50,000 undocumented immigrant children have crossed the United States’ southwestern border since October, many fleeing violence in Central American countries. The flood of undocumented kids has overwhelmed the U.S. immigration system and has created a humanitarian crisis as officials scramble to deal with the situation. President Obama has requested nearly $4 billion from Congress to help address the growing crisis, but so far House Republicans have resisted approving the funds.
House Speaker John Boehner said Thursday that Congress is unlikely to approve the measure before lawmakers leave Washington for the August recess.
“I can’t imagine our members are going to want to send more money down there without attempting to mitigate the problem at the border,” Boehner said at a Capitol Hill briefing.
Obama is scheduled to meet next week with the presidents of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador – the countries from which many of the undocumented immigrants are fleeing – to discuss the border crisis.
Protests held so far have varied in tone and size.
Protesters demonstrated Saturday in Oracle, Ariz. against a planned shelter for undocumented children in the city. Event organizer Robert Skiba said about 40 to 50 people had gathered by around 8:30 a.m. local time.
Skiba told msnbc his primary agenda was “trying to make people aware of the dangers of having these youth housed in and around our communities.”
A protest in La Mesa, in San Diego county, drew dozens of opponents of illegal immigration Saturday along the overpass of Interstate 8, according to NBC San Diego. Hundreds of undocumented mothers and children have been sent to San Diego for processing in recent weeks.
About 100 supporters and opponents of Dallas County’s plans to house immigrant children launched dueling protests Friday, according to The Dallas Morning News, which reported that the two sides “stayed calm as they interacted.”
But tensions apparently flared Friday in Lansing, Mich. when pro-immigration protesters and anti-illegal immigration demonstrators lobbed obscenities at each other, mlive.com reported.
Pro-reform advocates outnumbered anti-immigration protesters four to one Friday at at one of the planned protests in Philadelphia.