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Long said by telephone Friday that there was talk of a protest up to two weeks before Tuesday’s confrontation and the intent of his press conference Monday “was to squelch people’s rumors and to put people’s nerves at ease.”

He said forcing the buses to turn around was neither planned nor called for. “It’s not reflective of our city. This controversial topic has turned us upside down,” Long said. “It just happened to land on our doorstep, and we want to be part of a solution.”

Some local leaders said the outrage among some area residents was justified, given the already stressed social services infrastructure and the stagnant regional economy.

Riverside County Supervisor Jeff Stone said they weren’t concerned about the people on the buses. “It’s the thousands more that will follow that will strain our resources and take away the resources we need to care for our own citizens,” he said.

In recent months, thousands of children and families have fled violence, murders and extortion from criminal gangs in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. Since October, more than 52,000 unaccompanied children have been detained.

The crunch on the border in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley prompted U.S. authorities to fly immigrant families to other Texas cities and to Southern California for processing.

The Border Patrol is coping with excess capacity across the Southwest, and cities’ responses to the arriving immigrants have ranged from welcoming to indifferent.

In the border town of El Centro, California, a flight arrived Wednesday without protest.

In Nogales, Arizona, the mayor has said he welcomes the hundreds of children who are being dropped off daily at a large Border Patrol warehouse. Residents have donated clothing and other items for them.

In New Mexico, however, residents have been less enthusiastic.

At a town hall meeting this week, residents in Artesia spoke out against a detention center that recently started housing immigrants. They said they were afraid the immigrants would take jobs and resources from U.S. citizens.