JUNE 02, 2016
With record numbers of illegal immigrant minors still pouring into the United States through Mexico the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has turned to a media campaign—in lieu of increased border security—to try to stop the flow. Remember that this crisis started back in the summer of 2014, when hordes of Central American minors overwhelmed federal agents and mobilized various government agencies to deal with housing, health and safety issues associated with the new arrivals. The unfolding drama ignited a crisis that earned international headlines.
Though the news coverage has tapered off drastically since the initial 2014 influx the crisis has worsened and the numbers keep rising, according to the latest figures released by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Thousands of Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC) as well as family units continue pouring into the country each month. The numbers have actually surpassed the record 2014 surge levels and they’re on track to break records, the new CBP stats show. This year 70,684 UACs and family units—mostly from Central America—have crossed the southwest border compared to 62,621 during the same period in 2014, when the influx originally started. The government stats also reveal that nearly double the number (5,219) of UACs crossed the southwest border in April, 2016 compared to the same month last year. The number of family units also nearly doubled from last year’s figures to 5,616. Illegal immigrants have also expanded their routes, with Arizona and western Texas ports of entry seeing huge increases in the number of UACs.
So what are the brilliant officials at DHS doing to solve this serious problem? They’ve launched a Spanish media campaign in hopes of scaring would-be illegal crossers from coming to the U.S. via the Mexican border. The experiment includes a series of 60-second Spanish videos featuring real-life illegal immigrants from Central America who share details of their frightening experience with human smugglers during their 1,600-mile trek to the U.S. In the first video released last week by CBP a young Central American mother, whose face is never shown, recounts her experience. The 49-second segment begins by flashing “No Arriesgue Su Vida” (“Don’t Risk Your Life”) before the woman starts telling her story. She says: “When I left my house I was crying and devastated because I left my daughter not knowing when I would see her again.” She goes on to say that she suffered a lot and encountered people that tried to sexually abuse her. “Sometimes you travel in tractor trailer boxes unable to breathe. At the end of it all, nothing was like they said it would be.” The video ends with a narrator saying in Spanish that the woman shared her story freely to warn about the risk and danger of traveling north towards the United States.
In a statement written in English, a CBP spokesperson says that the anonymous woman who appears in the video is one of thousands of Central American migrants, including UACs, who in recent years have endured a myriad of atrocities, sexual abuse, extortion, assault, kidnapping and exploitation by human smugglers. That’s enough to scare anyone contemplating the rigorous journey and the U.S. government has a plan in place to relay the message before the migrants embark on their trip north. It’s called Border Safety Initiative (BSI), a project in which the agency conducts border dangers messaging outreach to key Central American communities in California, Texas, Florida, New York and the Washington D.C. metropolitan areas. Evidently, the plan is that relatives living in those areas get the message back home in time to scare others from coming. We’ll have to wait for the next batch of CBP stats to see if it works.
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