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Border Patrol Urges Central American Migrants Not to Travel to US Illegally

  • VOA News

U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Gil Kerlikowske, center, tours a police checkpoint to check the procedures to detect and stop illegal immigrants in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, Aug. 25, 2016.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Gil Kerlikowske, center, tours a police checkpoint to check the procedures to detect and stop illegal immigrants in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, Aug. 25, 2016.

The head of U.S. Customs and Border Protection is urging Central Americans to not make the dangerous trip to the United States to try to enter the country illegally.

During a trip to Honduras, Commissioner Gil Kerlikowske said he discussed the issue of migrants with a delegation of Honduran officials, including first lady Ana Garcia.

"We're very much in agreement with the government of Honduras to help their people stay in their country and not make the dangerous journey to America," Kerlikowske said.

The migratory flow is mostly from the Central American nations of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, three countries with some of the world's highest murder and poverty rates.

Kerlikowske, who visited a police station on Thursday to see the process of migrant detention, said the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama wants the migrants to be safe.

"From whatever Central American country, we would like them to remain in their country where they can be safe and where they can prosper and where they can get a good education. That is the goal of President Obama," he said.

Refugee status

The Obama administration announced in July an expansion of a program to let people fleeing violence in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador enter the United States as refugees.

It said Costa Rica agreed to temporarily shelter some of the migrants so they would not try to make the dangerous trek to the United States.

FILE - Immigration officials remove Central American migrants from a northbound freight train during a raid by federal police in San Ramon, Mexico, Aug. 29, 2014.

FILE - Immigration officials remove Central American migrants from a northbound freight train during a raid by federal police in San Ramon, Mexico, Aug. 29, 2014.

Many of the migrants making the journey are children, some of whom are not accompanied by an adult.

The U.N. Children Fund said in the first six months of 2016, almost 26,000 unaccompanied children were apprehended at the U.S. border. It said another nearly 30,000 people traveling as families, mostly mothers and young children, were apprehended during that same period.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Border Patrol released for the first time a public service announcement video in Central America, cautioning immigrants against entering the United States illegally.

The video features testimonials from migrants who attempted to make the journey to the United States, including a 19-year-old boy from Honduras who told the story of how his father died in his arms from dehydration.

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