By Alex Dobuzinskis
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Some 140 illegal immigrants, many of them women with children, will be flown from Texas to California and processed through a San Diego-area U.S. Border Patrol station as federal officials deal with a crush of Central American migrants at the border, a local mayor said on Monday.
Murrieta Mayor Alan Long, whose community of 107,000 people is 60 miles (97 km) north of San Diego, said at a news conference that he was told by federal officials the immigrants will arrive on Tuesday and many will be released to live with friends or relatives in the United States.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in a statement confirmed migrants would be moved from Texas to U.S. Border Patrol stations in Southern California, but they declined to say how many would arrive. Some will be released and told to report within 15 days to an ICE office, as part of deportation proceedings, the statement said.
"Clearly this is a failure to enforce federal law, and it's spreading the cost and needed resources to handle these situations back on the backs of the local communities," Long said at a news conference.
Starting on Tuesday, about 140 migrants are expected to be processed through the U.S. Border Patrol station in Murrieta every 72 hours for a number of weeks, he said.
The immigrant families coming to Southern California are part of a large influx of Central Americans, many of them children, who have crossed into the Rio Grande Valley of Texas and outstripped the ability of federal immigration and border agencies to hold them, officials said.
In May, federal officials disclosed they were releasing hundreds of immigrants at bus stations in Phoenix and Tucson with an order to report to an ICE office in 15 days. That action has been sharply criticized by the state's governor and attorney general.
A number of Republican elected officials have said President Barack Obama was failing to secure the border and should more quickly deport migrants from Central America. The controversy came as some U.S. groups pushed for policy reform to let the roughly 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States obtain a pathway to citizenship.
Republican John Boehner, speaker of the House of Representatives, told Obama last week that his chamber would not vote on immigration reform this year. Obama pledged on Monday to move enforcement resources from the U.S. interior to the border.
(Additional reporting by David Schwartz in Phoenix; Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Ken Wills)