Central American migrants apprehended at the border claimed to have been encouraged by local newspaper advertisements that promised work opportunities and free assistance from the U.S. government.
“The whole word knows, they put it in the news. They tell us everywhere if you come to the United States, they’ll help you,” said a Honduran woman apprehended at the southern border near the Rio Grande Valley. Speaking to CBS 4 news, a local news outlet, she and her family claimed they decided to make the trek to the U.S.-Mexico border after seeing several advertisements.
Numerous ads in Central America, reportedly paid for by operatives in the human smuggling business, are promising locals jobs and free help from the U.S. if they reach the border.
“Yes, we’ve been told that, we read it on our newspapers. That’s why we’re here,” said a Guatemalan pastor who was also apprehended in the Rio Grande valley area.
Additionally, the ads are telling readers that they have a better chance of getting through law enforcement if they bring a child: “We’ve been told if you are a father you can bring your child and you will be helped here if you’re in that situation,” the pastor explained.
The claims come as no surprise. The booming human smuggling industry in Central America has been well-documented, and recruiters have been open about their industry’s practices.
“It’s never been easier for us to get families in,” Germán, a client recruiter in Guatemala, said earlier in April. “People want to leave, and we help them,” he continued. “And I happen to make money in the process.”
Germán’s operation offers a multitude of travel options for clients who wish to reach the U.S. southern border. His packages range from $11,000 to $7,800, and include cheaper options for people willing to take notoriously deadly routes.
Coyotes and other human smugglers have contributed to the demographic changes at the U.S.-Mexico border.
The U.S. Border Patrol apprehended 92,607 foreign nationals between ports of entry at the border in March. Another 10,885 migrants appeared at a port of entry, but were deemed inadmissible and were turned back. The 103,492 total made March the highest month in apprehensions and inadmissibles in over a decade.
Of all the foreign nationals turned away last month, over 53,000 belonged to family units and almost 9,000 were unaccompanied alien children. The influx of children and families from non-contiguous countries has stretched U.S. immigration resources and pushed them past the breaking point.
“As more and more adults with children are released into the U.S. pending immigration proceedings, word of mouth and social media have spread news,” Brian Hastings, Border Patrol’s chief of law enforcement operations, said when March’s numbers were released. “And more immigrants are emboldened to make the dangerous journey.”
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