A bus full of school kids on their way to summer camp was stopped on an Arizona highway this week by a group of vigilantes who have vowed to block buses transporting unaccompanied minors from Central America. Once the self-appointed enforcers realized their marks were startled students from the local Marana school district, where 67 percent of students are white, they waved the bus through to its final destination: a YMCA summer camp.
The yellow school bus arrived at camp with "minimal interference" on Monday, according to a spokesperson for the YMCA of Southern Arizona. But the unexpected roadblock shows that the situation in small towns along the southern border is anything but normal these days.
What started earlier this month as a small-town protest in Murrieta, California has since spread across the country, resulting in dangerous situations like the one this Monday in Oracle, Arizona.
In both Murrieta and Oracle, the Tea Party and self-appointed militia groups scrambled to block buses after a local government official leaked information about the scheduled arrival of federal buses carrying undocumented immigrants. In Murrieta, the mayor held a press conference to announce the date that the buses were scheduled to arrive. In Oracle, the sheriff posted dates obtained by “whistle-blowers” on Facebook.
In both Murrieta and Oracle, the vigilante groups numbered in the dozens, not hundreds. Despite the relatively small size of the protests, both events managed to garner national attention. In Oracle, the total number of protesters on both sides of the issue didn’t pass 150, Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu told the L.A. Times.
The fear of Central American children that some public officials have cultivated is so intense that small towns are now preemptively announcing they’re ready to block the minors, when and if they come.
In Vassar, Michigan on Monday 50 demonstrators marched for a mile to protest the possible arrival of Central American children. Two of the demonstrators carried semi-automatic rifles, according to The Detroit News.
The population in Vassar is 2,726, according to the 2010 Census data. The 50 protesters who showed up practically put their small town on the national map, attracting media coverage from Fox News Radio to The San Francisco Chronicle.
Last fiscal year about 28,000 unaccompanied minors were detained, according to the Border Patrol. The Obama administration projects as many as 90,000 children could be detained by the end of the fiscal year in September.
Expect to hear more from Tea Party groups this week; they’re organizing more than 160 different local protests for their “National Days Of Protest Against Immigration Reform Amnesty,” according to TeaPartyCommunity.com.