The Obama administration intends to run a series of short Spanish-language public service announcements aimed at helping reduce the surge of illegal immigration from Central America to the United States.
In the first PSA of the campaign, released this week, the Spanish-language message from Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to would-be migrants warns that the 1,600 mile journey north is dangerous. The PSA makes no mention of the illegality of the practice nor offers any warnings that migrants attempting the trip will be sent home.
The 48-second PSA features an unidentified Central American mother who tells her story of coming to the U.S. with smugglers.
“You suffer a lot,” the Central American migrant says in Spanish. “You encounter people that try to sexually abuse you. Sometimes you travel in tractor trailer boxes unable to breathe. At the end of it all, nothing was like they say it would be.”
“She is an anonymous voice, one of thousands of Central American migrants, including unaccompanied children, who in recent years have endured a myriad of atrocities, sexual abuse, extortion, assault, kidnapping and exploitation in the hands of coyotes or human smugglers,” CBP spokesperson Jaime Ruiz said in a statement.
In addition to the ads, CBP says it is also bringing an outreach campaign to communities in the U.S. likely to send for families members living in Central America. CBP’s expanded Border Safety Initiative (BSI) will target “key Central American communities” in California, Texas, Florida, New York and Washington, D.C.
In recent years the southwest U.S. border has experienced a massive influx of Central American “families” and unaccompanied minors illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. The vast majority of Central American “families” and minors detained at the border have been released into the U.S., ostensibly to await immigration hearings. In practice, few of the tens of thousands of illegal immigrants detained at the border in recent years have been sent home.
The Obama administration has sought to deter migrants by stressing the perils of the trek northward. The new PSA testimonial campaign is a continuation of the media campaign the administration has pursued in Central America, Mexico, and in those “key Central American communities” in the U.S.
“Through these efforts CBP hopes to prevent the loss of human lives and to raise awareness of the real dangers and hazards Central American migrants and their families face in the hands of unscrupulous human smugglers,” CBP added in a release.