June 27th, 2014 (ISH) The United States this week warned Central American families to stop sending their unaccompanied children into American territory across the Mexican border, calling the trip dangerous and pointless.
“This journey is a dangerous one and at the end of it there’s no free pass,” Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said June 25 in Nogales, Arizona, as he visited a detention center housing 900 minors who had crossed the border alone.
“There are no ‘permisos’ for your children who come to the US,” he added, referring to the coveted residency permits hoped for at the end of those journeys.
Johnson said the United States was taking measures to boost ties mainly with Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. Among other things, the goal is to fight gang violence, which fuels much of the flight, and to spur economic development so people have more of an incentive to stay home, he said.
On June 20, the Obama administration announced a plan, including almost $100 million in aid this year to the governments of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador to help reintegrate the illegal migrants, according to a White House statement.
The administration also announced it would provide $161.5 million for the Central American Regional Security Initiative (CARSI) programs that “are critical to enabling Central American countries to respond to the region’s most pressing security and governance challenges.”
“Our first priority is to manage the urgent humanitarian situation by making sure these children are housed, fed, and receive any necessary medical treatment,” the statement said.
The United States says such gang violence – rampant in Central America – is at the heart of a surge in unaccompanied children crossing the border from Mexico into the U.S., mainly in Arizona and Texas.
According to U.S. media, some of the kids are as young as four or five, with some having to appear before a judge.
From October 2013 and into June, some 52,000 unaccompanied minors entered the United States. That was double the number from October 2012 through the end of 2013.