"Please remember these are human beings that are fleeing the violence in their home countries," Long said. "The problem is that they need to come into this country the legal way."

Journey from Texas

The U.S. government earlier flew the 140 Central American immigrants from south Texas to San Diego. Federal agents were busing them to Murrieta for processing at the Border Patrol station when the standoff took place Tuesday, CNN affiliates reported.

After the buses turned around, the 140 immigrants were taken to the U.S. Border Patrol's San Ysidro station in San Diego, said Ron Zermeno of the National Border Patrol Council

On Wednesday, Zermeno told CNN that at least 136 immigrants were fed and screened.

Among the group, 10 children were taken to local hospitals, though it's unclear why, Zermeno said. Seven more children were diagnosed with active scabies, an itchy and highly contagious skin disease. Those children are being kept separate from the others at the San Ysidro station, he said. Seventeen of the immigrants were taken to the Boulevard station in eastern San Diego County, Zermeno said.

The U.S. government is struggling to detain and accommodate an influx of undocumented immigrants, particularly a wave of unaccompanied children from the Central American countries of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. The U.S. government doesn't have enough beds, food or sanitary facilities.

Authorities estimate 60,000 to 80,000 children without parents will cross the border this year in what the White House has called an "immediate humanitarian crisis."

To help relieve crowded facilities in Texas, undocumented immigrants are now being sent elsewhere to be processed.

But Zermeno contended that processing immigrants, rather than enforcing the borders, is only making the situation worse.

"My concern is they are going to be eating in the same holding cells as someone sitting five feet away using the bathroom," he said.

Intense debate

The furor in Murrieta illustrated the conflict between protecting the borders and ensuring the safety of detained immigrants and children.

Protester Ellen Meeks said the country's identity has eroded with an influx of undocumented immigrants.

"I just wish America would be America again because it's not, and it's not just pointed to the Hispanics," Meeks said. "Everybody needs to go through the legal ways."

Other protesters told CNN affiliate KGTV said they wanted immigrants to follow the legal process to enter the United States.

"Everybody that wants to come to this nation is entitled to, but they should come the right way," Bob Cuccio told the news outlet.

"You bring in all these children and they're going to take over our schools," Bel Reeves added. "What's going to happen to the kids that were born and raised here?"

But immigration rights advocate Enrique Morones likened the migration to a refugee crisis and suggested racial antipathy was motivating protesters.

"If these children were from Canada, we would not be having this interview," Morones said. "The parents have had enough. They are saying, 'If I don't send my child north, they are going to die.'"