Photo: U.S.-Mexico border
The U.S. government on Thursday urged Central American parents not to send their children to the United States alone or via people trafficking networks.
“My message to your readership, your audience of those who may have children in Central America whom they want to reunite with, is that illegal migration is not safe,” Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said at a press conference.
The secretary discussed the efforts of DHS and other agencies to cope with an influx of child migrants that prompted President Barack Obama to declare “an urgent humanitarian situation.”
Johnson said that in fiscal year 2013, which ended last Sept. 30, Customs and Border Protection tallied some 24,000 children who crossed the border alone, while eight months into the current fiscal year the number had doubled to 47,000.
He emphasized that minors who illegally enter the country now cannot qualify for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which provides a reprieve from deportation for qualified migrants brought here before the age of 16.
With regard to the immigration reform package on which Congress is working, which was already approved in the Senate but is stalled in the House of Representatives, Johnson noted that if it enters into force it will affect those people who resided in the country before Dec. 31, 2011.
“Those who cross borders today illegally, including children, are not eligible for an earned path to citizenship,” Johnson said.
He said that he had been in contact with the governments of Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Mexico to talk about border security and the possibility of “rapid repatriations.”