A group of 40 illegal immigrants from Central America were deported back to their native Honduras on Monday, in what the Department of Homeland Security has called an “initial wave” of deportations.
NBC News reports that the illegal immigrants were bused to the Roswell, New Mexico airport from a detention facility in Artesia on Monday morning.
“We expect additional migrants will be returned to Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador in the coming days and weeks,” a DHS official told NBC.
According to Reuters, 17 women, 12 girls, and nine boys were on the flight bound for San Pedro Sula, Honduras. The report notes the children “looked happy” as they stepped off the airplane into a waiting bus, where they played with balloons they had been given.
In an interview with Mexican newspaper Excelsior published on Monday, Honduran President Juan Hernandez blamed U.S. drug policy for creating the massive surge of illegal immigrants crossing the border.
“A good part of (migration) has to do with the lack of opportunities in Central America, which has its origin in the climate of violence, and this violence, almost 85 percent of it, is related to the issue of drug trafficking,” Hernandez told the paper.
“Honduras has been living in an emergency for a decade. The root cause is that the United States and Colombia carried out big operations in the fight against drugs. Then Mexico did it. This is creating a serious problem for us that sparked this migration,” said the president.
Honduran first lady Ana Garcia de Hernandez echoed her husband’s sentiments, while she waited to receive the children at the airport.
“The countries consuming drugs need to support (us) and take joint responsibility, because if there wasn’t demand, there wouldn’t be production and we wouldn’t be living like we are,” she told Reuters.