Hundreds gathered at a town hall meeting in Murrieta to voice both support and frustrations with the buses of migrant families being shuttled into the Southern California city. Robert Kovacik reports for the NBC4 News at 11 p.m. Wednesday, July 2, 2014.
The brother of the late banda star Jenni Rivera has taken on a high-profile role in a Riverside County community by squaring off against protesters who want to prevent undocumented immigrants from entering the city's border patrol station.
Lupillo Rivera stood in the middle of the quarreling mass Tuesday wearing a bright green Mexican soccer jersey and donning a black baseball cap that read, "Relax Gringo I'm Legal." He exchanged words with a group that forced three buses full of undocumented immigrants to turn around at the Murrieta border station.
The protesters clogged the streets, attempting to block a group of buses headed to the station. Inside the buses were 140 undocumented immigrants, mostly children, who had illegally crossed into the United States.
The demonstration lasted hours, with supporters of both sides bitterly arguing with each other.
"I was spit on, I was slapped at, I was pushed around," Lupillo Rivera told NBC4.
Rivera joined demonstrators again Wednesday night outside a town hall meeting, where city officials and residents talked about Friday's scheduled transfer of more immigrants. Rivera has since urged his followers to tweet at President Barack Obama and demand immigration reform.
Rivera, the son of undocumented immigrants, is the brother of singer and immigration activist Jenni Rivera, who died in a plane crash in 2012. Tuesday's protest was a day before what would have been his sister’s 45th birthday.
After the day of shouting and shoving Tuesday, there were no arrests. The buses eventually turned away from the city that has become a catalyst in the national immigration debate.
More than 52,000 unaccompanied children have been detained after crossing the Texas-Mexico border since October in what President Barack Obama has called a humanitarian crisis. Some are being transferred to other locations, including Murrieta, for processing before they will be turned over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.