Some were there to jeer at the migrant children from Central America who they were told were being bused Tuesday to Oracle in Pinal County.
Some were there to cheer.
But the children never showed up. And federal officials say they have no knowledge that the kids were ever intended to be there.
ROBERTS: Oracle is no Murrieta - fortunately
SPECIAL PROJECT: Border crisis: Immigrant children
Two news releases issued Monday stoked all the commotion.
Sycamore Canyon Academy said it received an urgent request from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Refugee Resettlement "to provide safe and temporary care to a small number of ... youth from Central and South America."
The Pinal County Sheriff's Office said "whistle-blowers" within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security revealed that migrant children caught crossing the U.S. border were being bused to Sycamore Canyon Academy.
A federal official told The Arizona Republic there was no notification that any immigrant children were scheduled to arrive at the detention centers. Two congressional sources confirmed that they had no knowledge of any kids being sent to Oracle. None of the officials would speak for attribution.
Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu's spokesman, Tim Gaffney, responded by sending a copy of the Sycamore Canyon press release.
In a voicemail to The Arizona Republic late Tuesday night Sycamore Canyon Academy Program Director Carl "Ike" Shipman reaffirmed the center's press release,"
"We are fully approved to receive students just like I put in my press release," Shipman said.
Babeu and his deputies spent the day shuttling between about 150 protesters and supporters. He also held impromptu press conferences and was interviewed by CNN's Anderson Cooper.
Protesters and supporters began gathering early Tuesday, with some anticipating a confrontation similar to the one in Murrieta, Calif., earlier this month.
A flier posted by Babeu supporter Robert Skiba in the Oracle Post Office promised "to do whatever is necessary from preventing these illegals from entering our community."
But for the most part, the two groups stayed separated by several miles. Early in the day, protesters briefly blocked the highway, but moved.
A few supporters did venture toward the protesters, who responded by shouting, "Commies!"
The Associated Press reported that members of a mariachi band were shoved when they began playing near the protesters. There were no injuries.
And there was nothing like the heated confrontations in Murrieta, where six people were arrested and protesters in Murrieta succeeded in blocking a bus carrying immigrant families to a Border Patrol facility there.
"Children shouldn't see this country as all people who hate," Julie Szekely, 69, said as her reason for approaching the protesters Tuesday in Oracle.
Dolly Pettet, 67, joined the opposition protest after attending a town hall meeting held by Republican gubernatorial hopeful Christine Jones and hearing Babeu speak about violence on the border.
"I don't want to sit on the couch and not do something about it," Pettet said. "I think we should secure our borders by any means."
Pettet said her grandson just returned from a tour of duty in Afghanistan.
"We are not going to honor those who have lost their lives by just turning our heads."
kwansman's bus mix-up
Republican congressional candidate and state legislator Adam Kwasman had just raced up to Phoenix on Tuesday morning from the protest in Oracle over the expected arrival of dozens of migrant children at a shelter.
He had tweeted from the scene, "Bus coming in. This is not compassion. This is the abrogation of the rule of law." He included a photo of the back of a yellow school bus.
Kwasman later said he saw the migrant children. "I was actually able to see some of the children in the buses. The fear on their faces. ... This is not compassion," he said.
But there was a problem with Kwasman's story: Those weren't the migrant children in the school bus. Those were children from the Marana school district. They were heading to the YMCA's Triangle Y Camp not far from the Rite of Passage shelter for the migrants, at the base of Mount Lemmon.
Kwasman later deleted the tweet.
— Brahm Resnik, 12 News