SACRAMENTO Nearly 1,000 people converged on the state Capitol in Sacramento in dueling demonstrations Saturday over a plan to create a state immigration police force, while police officers on horseback stood between the rival gatherings to maintain order.
Authorities reported three arrests during the two-hour standoff, which illustrated California's growing divide over how best to secure its border with Mexico.
A proposed ballot initiative by Assemblyman Ray Haynes, R-Murrieta, to create a state immigration police force was the reason for the rallies, but the role that volunteer citizen patrols known as "Minutemen" play on the Mexico-U.S. border also prompted debate. A San Diego-based group announced last month that it had taken border patrols into its own hands to stop illegal immigrants and drug smugglers form entering California.
Peter Camejo, an independent vice presidential candidate in 2004, led the counter-protest. He said the effort to seal off the borders is wrong, and that those coming across the border are needed for the American economy.