Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson warned Central American immigrants that they will not be allowed to stay in the U.S. if they cross into the country illegally.
The Department of Homeland Security has released “An Open Letter to the Parents of Children Crossing Our Southwest Border,” regarding the massive influx of undocumented children through America’s southern border. Spanish websites posted the Spanish version of the letter over the weekend.
The statement is aimed at the parents of children in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, the three countries that have had the most children traveling north in hopes of successfully staying in the United States.
“If your child is caught crossing the border illegally, he or she will be charged with violating United States immigration laws, and placed in deportation proceedings — a situation no one wants,” Johnson said. “The document issued to your child is not a ‘permiso,’ but a Notice To Appear in a deportation proceeding before an immigration judge.”
He warned that “the ‘permisos’ do not exist.”
A “permiso,” or permit, would allow otherwise illegal immigrants to remain in the country. The I-94 permit, a temporary allowance into the country, is required for visitors who plan on staying further than 25 miles from the border for over 30 days.
A Notice to Appear is quite the opposite. It is the beginning of a removals proceeding. The court date assigned is a step toward arrest, or in this case, deportation.
Johnson acknowledged why families would want to send children north due to “gang and drug violence terrorize communities,” but stressed to families that letting their children go through this journey, especially alone, would not be worth it.
The “criminal smuggling networks” that help bring children to America do not care about the kids themselves; they want profit, Johnson said. These children deal with psychological abuse, being beaten, starved and at times even sold into the sex trade, stated Johnson — all to reach the United States and not be granted a permit to stay.
Last week, Vice President Biden met with leaders from these three countries, and Mexico, to discuss a way diminish the amount of children attempting to cross into the United States.