If you try to send your children to the U.S. illegally they could die, Department of Homeland Security Sec. Jeh Johnson is warning Central American families.
As the number of unaccompanied minors from Central America attempting to illegally come to America have increased over the summer, the Obama administration has embarked on a media effort to dissuade people from making the journey or sending their children.
In an op-ed warning to Central Americans that run first at EFE Tuesday, Johnson recounts the August 6 death of an 11 year-old unaccompanied minor from El Salvador who attempted to illegally travel north to the U.S.
“But, by the time Jonathan reached the Texas border in the blistering summer heat, he was dehydrated and exhausted. Our Border Patrol agents found Jonathan and tried to save him, but it was too late. Jonathan was pronounced dead in a nearby Texas hospital,” Johnson writes.
So far this year Border Patrol has apprehended 30,862 unaccompanied minors and 29,407 family units attempting to illegally enter the U.S. The figures are high compared to prior years but less than last fiscal year when CBP apprehended 62,977 UACs and 62,848 family units.
In addition to warning parents against having their children make the hot, arduous journey — “Know the facts before you gamble with your child’s life,” Johnson writes — the DHS secretary highlights another dangerous aspect of the journey: criminal smugglers.
“This summer we are seeing another troubling and dangerous thing. Before smuggling women and children across our border, the Coyotes are forcing them to spend days in ‘stash houses.’ These women and children, who have paid the Coyotes thousands of dollars, are then held by the Coyotes against their will with little food and water. We are told many women are sexually abused by the smugglers,” Johnson writes.
The DHS secretary stresses the importance for would-be illegal immigrants, or parents considering sending their children alone to the U.S. to realize that they will face consequences.
“Our borders are not open to illegal migration. There are no “permisos” or work permits for families attempting to enter the United States illegally. In fact, under our new policies, anyone apprehended crossing our border illegally after January 1, 2014 is a top priority for deportation, regardless of age. If you come here illegally, there will be consequences,” he writes. “You will be detained, often required to pay a bond, and agree to conditions that ensure your return to court for your immigration case.”
Johnson notes that a recent judge’s order directing the Obama administration to release illegal immigrants in family detention facilities has not changed the immigration court policy.
He further pointed to the Obama administration’s new, controversial program to fly Central American children to the U.S.
“Late last year, we established an in-country refugee processing program in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, for children with at least one parent lawfully present in the United States,” he wrote. “We encourage families to take advantage of this program, which will provide those who qualify with a safe and legal alternative to the perilous illegal journey.”