McALLEN -– U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will spend $1 million on an ad campaign in Central America warning people of the dangers of trying to enter the United States illegally.
CBP Commissioner Gil Kerlikowske made the announcement Wednesday afternoon on the banks of the Rio Grande.
“Families need to understand that the journey north has become much more treacherous and there are no ‘permisos’ for those crossing the border illegally,” Kerlikowske said. "Children, 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.”
The government will buy time to broadcast 6,500 television and radio advertisements in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras beginning July 7 for 11 weeks. In addition, Customs and Border Protection will buy 233 billboards.
It’s called the Dangers Awareness Campaign.
The messages on the billboards said in Spanish, “I thought it would be easy for my son to get papers in the north. I was wrong,” and "They are our future. Protect them." The images on the billboards show child migrants alone or collapsed in the desert.
This fiscal year, Kerlikowske reported that 46 girls and women reported being raped on the way to the U.S., 34 have drowned trying to cross the Rio Grande, and more than 220 others have died on land.
Kerlikowske said CBP has paid for advertising in the past.
Honduras has the highest homicide rate in the world, Kerlikowske said. He acknowledged why people are leaving there for the United States, but said the current rate of undocumented immigrants is unsustainable.
Customs and Border Protection has added 300 new agents to the Rio Grande Valley.