Gem of the Valley,” Murrieta’s official city song.

On Tuesday, protesters in Murrieta, Calif., forced 140 undocumented Mexican immigrants transferred from Texas to find another destination.

On Wednesday night, the immigration standoff continued. At a meeting, Murrieta residents shouted “Send them back!” at a Border Patrol agent explaining the need to find a place for some of the 52,000 children who recently overwhelmed the U.S.-Mexico border, according to the Associated Press. The Border Patrol had planned to process these children at a facility in the city. Murrieta’s protest has inflamed proponents of immigration reform — and inspired those who want the border closed.

But what do we know about the town staging this action with its mayor’s encouragement? Is it rich or poor? Racially diverse? Does it have a movie theater or a Starbucks?

“Gem of the Valley,” Murrieta’s official song by Eileen Lloyd and Jason Brawner, offers some clues. More or less: Murrieta is a small town that only recently became a city in the middle of an intense demographic shift.

Lyrics, with annotation:

VERSE: It all started in 1873/with Juan Murrieta and 100,000 sheep (1)

He took them to the hot springs so they could bathe and drink/but this precious secret wouldn’t be his to keep (2)

Some folks took a train and came ’round/They found that it was perfect and so they settled down (3)

CHORUS: She’s the gem of the valley, our little pot of gold (4)/Where we can make new memories, treasures to hold

And you know she’s a safe place (5) where we can live, laugh, learn and play/Yeah, I’m loving Marietta a little more each day

VERSE: Yeah, she’s the future of Southern California (6) /Planting the seed cause it’s a great place to grow

Rocking concerts in the park/Car show thrills a daddy’s heart (7)

Outside movies (8) in the dark with a warm hand to hold

Where Santa stops on a streetside star (9)/and carolers lift their voices and sing with all their hearts


(1) Murrieta was founded by Spaniards in 1873, according to its Web site. Though its immigration protest has come to symbolize discontent with President Obama’s immigration policies, the city is more than 25 percent Hispanic or Latino, according to census data. Seventy percent of its citizens are white, making it whiter than California as a whole.

(2) The secret of Murrieta has gotten out, but only relatively recently. More than 100,000 people live there, but most came in the past two decades — 85,000 new residents since 1991.

(3) Presumably not everyone in Murrieta is ready to settle down — 30 percent of the city is under 18, and the city’s median age is just 32.

(4) The city’s median household income is $75,485 — higher than the California median of about $61,000.

(5) Murrieta is the second-safest city in the nation, according to the FBI.

(6) The motto “the future of Southern California” doesn’t just look good on a bumper sticker — Murrieta’s recent demographic shifts may indeed reflect California’s future. In the state, some project Latinos will make up 45 percent of the population in 2040. Already at 39 percent of the population, Latinos passed whites in March.

(7) Murrieta just held its 44th annual Father’s Day car show. The city may want to consider a Mother’s Day event — women are a slight majority.

(8) “Movies in the Park” are strictly kid-oriented — “Madagascar 3” is playing on Aug. 3.

(9) The city is 66 percent Catholic, according to (using data from Riverside County). Indeed, St. Nick stops in every neighborhood.