Around a dozen passionate Malibu-area residents stood on the corner of PCH and Topanga Canyon on Saturday afternoon, holding American flags and homemade signs calling for closed borders.
The group made up one of over 300 protests around the country this weekend, organized by the Conservative group “Americans for Legal Immigration PAC.”
A recent influx of undocumented immigrants crossing the United States-Mexico border has made headlines all over the country this month, lighting a fire across the political spectrum as politicians and concerned citizens debate how to handle the thousands of people now in U.S. custody. Since last October, an estimated 52,000 undocumented children have been caught crossing the U.S. border and are being held at facilities across the country, including nearby in Port Hueneme.
Diane Pope, a protester who grew up in Malibu, said the children in Port Hueneme pose a potential health threat to Malibu.
“It may not appear to be affecting [Malibu] now,” said Pope, adding, “Problem is, they’re dropping off kids with diseases, and diseases aren’t private.”
Pope then went on to say that the children would likely be attending school in the fall.
“I could see possibly Malibu High being tapped and kids being bussed in,” said Pope.
Concerns over immigrants bringing with them foreign diseases predate the wave of European immigration through Ellis Island in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and, according to some medical professionals, they are rumors at best.
“There is a long, sad and shameful tradition in the United States in using fear of disease, contagion and contamination to stigmatize immigrants and foreigners,” Arthur Caplan, director of the Division of Medical Ethics at New York University’s Langone Medical Center, told NBC in a story published July 9.
At the protest, the solution to the crisis seemed clear to many residents: the border should be closed and undocumented immigrants should be returned to their home countries.
“Every other nation on earth controls their borders,” said Craig Wilson, a Westchester resident attending the rally.
“You’ve got to sign the guest book,” Wilson added.
Pope agreed, stating that more undocumented immigrants would potentially weaken America’s laws.
“It’s time for Americans to stand up and become visible if we want to keep our Constitution,” said Pope, who was carrying pocket-sized copies of the Constitution with her to distribute.
Pope also agreed with Wilson that the borders should be closed, but added that legal immigration should become more streamlined. She remarked that a friend of hers had to wait seven years to legally become a citizen of the U.S.
“If you want to be a citizen, you shouldn’t have to wait that long,” said Pope.
This sentiment was echoed by many of the protesters on Saturday, where the consensus was that legal immigrants are still welcome in the United States.
However, the threat that the newest wave of immigrants poses to the country, according to the protesters, needs to be addressed immediately.
“Don’t talk about amnesty until you shut the door,” said Kelly McCue, who came to the protest with three others from Northridge.
“They’re saying it’ll cost $4 billion [to care] for the kids,” said Jim McCue, who was standing with her. He added, “We could build a pretty good fence for that.”
“Hire them to build the fence. Want to stay? Build the fence,” responded Kelly.
The protest, which was held on the corner near the parking lot of the Malibu Food Bin and Oasis Imports, drew a somewhat sparse reaction from passing vehicles. While the majority of reactions seemed positive, with a handful of drivers honking horns and giving “thumbs up,” there were also a number of lewd remarks and obscene gestures directed at the protesters.
Shoppers at Oasis Imports on Saturday afternoon said they weren’t overly concerned about the nearby protest.
“My husband is against it, but I’m sympathetic,” said the shopper, who was visiting Malibu from Bel Air. “But I do always feel like protesting is not the way to figure it out. They could be doing something else instead of standing around on the corner.”
In the eyes of the protesters, however, it is their civic duty to speak out about closing the border.
“I’m glad people are finally waking up,” said Kelly McCue.