Groups opposing illegal immigration demonstrated Tuesday in this Arizona town to prevent the arrival here of undocumented children.
Singing patriotic songs and waving American flags, residents of Oracle, a town of some 4,000 people, expressed their annoyance at the news that Central American children will be sheltered in their community.
"We're frustrated with the way our government is acting, trying to keep secret what they're doing with these kids," Bob Skiba, organizer of the protests similar to the ones earlier this month in Murrieta, California, told Efe.
"The federal government doesn't give us a thought when making its decisions - it's carrying out secret agreements without letting us know who these youngsters are and how long they're going to be here," Skiba said.
Some 300 people gathered both in favor and against the arrival of undocumented children in an area near Sycamore Canyon Academy, where approximately 40 youngsters will be sheltered.
With posters reading "No amnesty," the demonstrators came with the intention of keeping the buses full of migrants out of town at all costs.
However, just three miles away other demonstrators were set to welcome the youngsters with posters in Spanish that said "Hola," "Todos somos hermanos" (We're all brothers and sisters), and "Amor y Paz" (Love and Peace).
Despite the constant rumors that the buses were coming, after the first four hours of protesting there was still no sign of them.
Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu, criticized for tipping off locals about the undocumented children coming to Oracle, appeared at the demonstration to talk to both sides.
"My job is to enforce the law...you're here to guarantee that no roads are blocked...everyone has the right to express their opinions," he said.
Babeu said that Oracle residents were right to be concerned about the security of their community
"These undocumented youngsters ought to be put on a plane, sent back to their own countries and reunited with their families," he said. EFE