CBP Warns Central Americans Against Immigrating Illegally

By Kausha Luna on August 11, 2015

On Monday U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) launched a media campaign in Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. The 30-second radio and TV public service announcements are titled "Conozca los hechos" or "Know the Facts". The commercials address the dangers faced by prospective illegal immigrants intending to cross the border into the United States. Watch the Spanish-language ads here.

The PSAs specify that "There are no permits for the people trying to cross the border without papers." The media seems to have understood this message to be that, "for now", people will not be eligible to enter the U.S. under President Obama's immigration guidelines. Considering that almost none of the illegal immigrants from last year's border surge have been removed, the ad improbably announces "the immediate deportation of those trying to cross the border without documents."

The ads end with this admonition: "If anybody tells or promises you something different, please, don't believe them. Protect yourself!" This is a reference to CPB's warning against promises made by "coyotes" that they will be able to cross the border and accepted into the U.S.

As part of this effort, a Border Patrol delegation from Arizona traveled to Guatemala today, meeting with various agencies and with officials from the other "Northern Triangle" countries (Honduras and El Salvador, along with Guatemala) to discuss the dangers of illegal immigration and measures to protect migrants.

Last year CBP Commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowske explained the Awareness Campaign's objective: "to warn families about the dangers encountered by unaccompanied minors who attempt to travel from Central America to the U.S., and to counter misperceptions that smugglers may be disseminating about immigration benefits in the United States."

News coverage of the PSAs links them to efforts by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to avoid a repeat of last year's border surge (though the flow continues to be higher than any year prior to 2014). The coverage also alludes to President Obama's $1 billion development plan (pending congressional approval) for Central America as an additional effort to "avoid another humanitarian crisis…to better the economies and reduce violence in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras."