WASHINGTON â€” Today, U. S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowske discussed the Dangers Awareness Campaign, an aggressive Spanish language outreach effort and an urgent call to action to community groups, the media, parents and relatives in the U.S. and Central America to save and protect the lives of migrant children attempting to cross the southwest border.
â€œFamilies need to understand that the journey north has become much more treacherous and there are no â€˜permisosâ€™ for those crossing the border illegally,â€ said CBP Commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowske. â€œChildren, especially, are easy prey for coyotes and transnational criminal organizations and they can be subjected to robbery, violence, sexual assault, sex trafficking or forced labor.â€
Commissioner Kerlikowske discussed the campaign on the banks of the Rio Grande River, at Anzalduas County Park in Mission, Texas, to underscore the dangers posed by the natural elements, including harsh terrain and unforgiving weather conditions. So far this year, the U.S. Border Patrol has identified more than 220 deaths along the southwest border, including 34 water-related deaths. The U.S. Border Patrol has recorded 14 water-related rescues this year in RGV. (Video of news conference).
The objective of the campaign is 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. The Dangers Awareness Campaign will feature public service announcement placements in Central America.
The campaign includes Spanish language media outreach accompanied by local media events in metropolitan areas with high concentrations of Central Americans, such as Houston, Los Angeles, Washington D.C., New York and Miami. In addition to the earned media campaign, public service announcements will run through September 7in El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala. About 6,500 public service announcements will run on the radio and television during the course of the campaign.
Billboards will also prominently display similar messages in those countries.