Immigration protesters in front of the Mexican Consulate-General on Friday in downtown San Diego. Photo courtesy of Americans for Legal Immigration

Inspired by the protests in Murrieta earlier this month, where busloads of asylum-seekers were turned around at the Border Patrol station, dozens of San Diegans participated this weekend  in the national protest against illegal immigration.

People were  gathered Saturday along Interstate 8 overpass in La Mesa to voice their opinions on illegal immigration, according to NBC San Diego.  They were there to protest the influx of tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants being transferred to all parts of the country, including San Diego.

“We think our border needs to be better protected,” Lucy Ingalls told NBC San Diego. “Crime is coming in, we have disease coming in, we have mothers sending their kids off by themselves to get sick and die on their own and I think that’s a huge crime.”

On Friday, some 25 people protested outside the Mexican Consulate-General in downtown San Diego. The protest was largely peaceful, with one minor altercation, according to Americans for Legal Immigration‘s website, a political action committee run by Raleigh, N.C., resident William Gheen.

The activists were part of a national turnout inspired by protests earlier this month against busloads of asylum-seekers being transported to Murrieta from south Texas. The buses were turned away and went to San Ysidro instead.

ALI called for a nationwide show of opposition on July 18-19 to the migrant transfers, dubbing the effort “National Days of Protest Against Amnesty and Illegal Immigration.”

Gheen and other border enforcement advocates have called the migrant transfers politically motivated, instigated by the Obama administration to intensify pressure on Congress to pass immigration reform measures that many opponents have blasted as backdoor amnesty.

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, whose district includes San Ysidro, told Times of San Diego in a previous interview that these protests are taking the focus off the real issue — the reason why these migrants are risking their lives to cross the border.

“It’s time to shift from the bogus talking points about border security to a more thoughtful discussion about how a nation of decent people should respond to children fleeing rape and murder,” she said. “We’ve handled the refugee issue before and surely we can handle scared children from Central America.”

According to ALI’s website, protests were planned in all 50 states, plus the nation’s capital.

According to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials, the transfers have been necessary to relieve overcrowding of federal detention facilities in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley, where between 40,000 and 60,000 undocumented immigrants, many of them children, have illegally entered the country this year, claiming refugee status.

— City News Service contributed to this report.

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