As some 140 migrants are expected to arrive in Southern California on Friday, immigrant advocates are urging the federal government to grant amnesty to migrant children seeking refuge in the United States.
On Thursday, demonstrators outside the federal building in Oakland demanded more support for families and unaccompanied children fleeing Central America.
In downtown Los Angeles, demonstrators chanted "liberation, not deportation," demanding that President Barack Obama and Congress stop deportations, particularly of children fleeing violence in their native countries.
"These kids that just came to the border, they are refugees," said Luis Serrano of the California Immigrant Youth Alliance. "They are here alone. They are fleeing their countries because they are afraid for their lives."
Serrano said a law passed in 2008 under former president George W. Bush qualifies the children for refugee status.
The activists fear Obama is trying to weaken the law now in order to speed up deportations.
According to the Pew Research Center, the bulk of the unaccompanied children migrating to the U.S. are from the most violent regions in countries such as Honduras and El Salvador.
The number of children captured trying to cross the U.S.-Mexico border has nearly doubled in the last year, according to the Department of Homeland Security. The increase may be fueled by mistaken beliefs that children's status in the U.S. can be expedited if they are unaccompanied.
About 2 million people have been deported since 2008 under Obama.
The president said this week he plans to take more executive actions on immigration since Congress has stalled on passing an immigration reform bill, but only Congress has the power to suspend deportations.
When American flag-waving protesters forced busloads of immigrants to leave Murrieta this week, the Southern California city became the latest flashpoint in the intensifying immigration debate.
The mayor of the fast-growing community in the conservative-leaning Inland Empire region urged residents to speak out against the federal government's handling of thousands of Central American children and families flooding the Texas border.
A day later, protesters blocked the road to a Murrieta border patrol facility where a group of immigrants were taken to be processed.
The reaction to the influx of immigrants fleeing violence in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras has been varied across the Southwest. In some communities, immigrant advocates have been collecting donations and trying to help immigrants reunite with family.
Matt Hamilton of the Associated Press contributed to this report.