HOUSTON, Texas–Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson recently penned a letter to Spanish-language media outlets, urging parents not to send their children to the U.S. illegally. There are no “permisos,” or free passes, at the end Johnson claimed. The Secretary’s rhetoric, however, juxtaposes the reality of the border situation: most of the minor migrants will not be deported and will likely face few consequences for illegal entry.
In his letter, Johnson stressed how dangerous the trip from Central America to the U.S. can be for young migrants.
“Sending a child to make the long journey from Central America to the United States is dangerous,” he wrote. “The criminal networks trafficking in people that you hire to take your child to the United States have no regard for the safety and welfare of children: for them, your child is a commodity to be delivered in exchange for money. In the hands of smugglers, many children experience trauma and psychological abuse suffered by the journey; or, what is worse, they are beaten, underfed, raped or sold into the sex trade and are exposed to all kinds of psychological abuse by criminals.”
Indeed, the trek north can be deadly, and the dangers extend far beyond potential abuse by smugglers. Breitbart Texas recently reported that many of the Latino minors are hopping aboard a network of Mexican freight trains called “El Tren de la Muerte,” or Death Train. Children who choose to travel this way must jump onto a moving freight car. Those who cannot successfully pull themselves onto the traveling cars fall onto the tracks–many are left with extreme injuries.
Johnson continued his letter by stating, “The long and arduous journey is not only dangerous, but no ‘permiso’ or pass at the end. … According to the laws and U.S. policies, anyone who is arrested by illegally crossing our border is subject to deportation priority, regardless of age. This means that if your daughter or son is arrested while crossing the border illegally, they will be charged with violating immigration laws of the United States and deportation proceedings will be initiated against them: not a recommended situation. The document that is issued to your child is not a ‘permiso,’ but a notice to appear in removal proceedings before an immigration judge.”
But what is actually occurring in the U.S. tells a much different story.
Rather than being turned away after illegally crossing the border, young migrants are given a myriad of benefits including housing, food, vocational training, education, recreation, and even legal counsel. Further, hundreds are being released onto U.S. soil by federal agents each week and reunited with family members. The Associated Press recently reported that the most of the minors will be allowed to “live in American cities, attend public schools and possibly work here for years without consequences.”
Breitbart Texas contributing editor and border security expert Sylvia Longmire said, “I doubt [Johnson’s] efforts will have much impact on slowing the tidal wave of illegal immigrants headed to south Texas for two reasons. First, the reality on the ground conflict with the message he’s trying to get across. Technically, all of these children and their family members are being placed into removal proceedings, and technically they are not being given permits to stay. However, the majority of the kids are eligible for some sort of relief from deportation, which will be realized with the help of a pro bono attorney many will have assigned to them through the Office of Refugee Resettlement. As for the family members, if they request asylum, their removal proceedings could drag on for years, which essentially allows them to plant some roots in the U.S. and make some money through the temporary work visa they’ll receive after six months.”
She continued, “The second reason is that many people in Latin America have had an inherent distrust of the U.S. government for decades based on a long history of military, government, and corporate intervention in several countries. Individuals planning on sending their kids to the US or making the trip themselves are more likely to take advice from friends or family members than from the DHS Secretary. This is made evident by the fact that CBP has been putting a similar message out through Spanish-language media in Central America for over two years, and that obviously did nothing to prevent the current surge.”
It is unclear how the Obama Administration plans to handle to ongoing illegal immigration surge at the border, which experts claim will only get worse.
Follow Kristin Tate on Twitter @KristinBTate.