On Wednesday, the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency launched an ad campaign in three Central American countries aimed at dissuading child refugees from making the trek into the United States. The Dangers Awareness campaign includes radio, television, and billboard ads that warn parents and children about the dangers of the journey and hope to send the universal message that children are unable to stay in the country. The ads will run in Central America’s Northern Triangle — Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala, through September.
As of mid-June, the CBP agency has apprehended more than 52,000 children at the border, with a large majority of the flow stemming from Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala. In recent times, all three countries have experienced increased gang violence and poverty.
The Spanish-language ads include messages like, “The journey is too dangerous;” “Children will not get legal papers if they make it;” and “They are the future—let’s protect them.” Radio ads for each of the three Central American countries warn listeners that children will be caught and that they will likely also encounter dangers like coyotes, or smugglers, on their journey north. The agency will also work with stakeholders in Central America and in the U.S., like local governments, faith-based organizations, other non-governmental organizations and the news media, “to encourage them to continue communicating these messages with their constituencies.”
CBP Commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowske stated in a press release that the administration hopes “to address the conditions in Central America that are spurring the migration and ways that we can together assure faster, secure repatriation of these children and families.”
For its part, the Obama administration is focused on deporting children as quickly as possible. Obama will soon ask Congress to approve emergency funds in order to expedite the immigration process and to increase the number of immigration judges to process deportation cases. And his administration is also looking to change a 2008 human trafficking law that would likely expedite deportations as well. On top of that, President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State John Kerry, and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson have all warned that children will be sent back to their countries.