The United States praised the Mexican government’s work to help solve the crisis of unaccompanied Central American children immigrating to the United States.
“The Mexican government has been an extraordinary partner in this effort,” said Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas.
He spoke about Mexico’s investment in resources to track smugglers, secure the borders and ensure the protection of those seeking humanitarian aid.
Mayorkas presented an outlook of the Obama administration’s response to the crisis that began in October 2013 with the arrival of unaccompanied minors to the United States.
Five months ago the number of daily arrests was 300, but the number has decreased dramatically, resulting from an increase in border security and low migration due to extreme weather conditions in August.
“It would be premature at best to declare victory, to say the problem is behind us, because we don’t know,” Mayorkas said.
The United States has allocated significant funds to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) investigators, as well as other security agencies, to bring down human trafficking networks, Mayorkas said.
He said the United States has carried out a public messaging campaign to persuade families not to send their children on the perilous journey north. Part of that campaign has been to counter what Mayorkas called a “very significant misinformation campaign” by smugglers who falsely promise that children will be granted instant legal status and allowed to stay in the United States permanently. Also, immigrants are led to believe that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program will give young immigrants, who arrived to the United States as children, temporary legal status and work permits for two years.
The United States is investing money to help Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador address the causes that force parents to make the desperate decision of sending their children to the United States alone, such as drug and gang-related violence.
He also said the administration is working to improve the detention center in Artesia, N. M., where migrant families with children are held after crossing the border illegally. There is concern that Artesia personnel are not trained to interrogate female immigrants who are running away from domestic violence or have suffered sexual abuse during the journey to the United States.
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