The U.S. State Department is stepping up an advertising campaign in Central America to warn would-be migrants against illegally traveling to the United States, Fox News reports.
“The message that we’re sending is that the pathway to the United States illegally is a futile journey,” said a senior State Department official.
The United States government is funding several billboards in Guatemala and El Salvador, as well as advertising panels on bus stops in Honduras that are going up this week, according to the official.
The billboards caution Central Americans that “The road to the USA has become more dangerous. Don’t put your children at risk. Give them the security they deserve.”
This is part of a broader campaign that involves radio ads and social media posts from U.S. embassy staffers in the region. The federal government has previously used advertising campaigns like this to dissuade Central Americans from illegally traveling to the U.S. though thousands every month make the trip anyway fleeing violence, corruption and poverty.
Over the past several months, the Trump administration has signed agreements with Central American countries allowing the U.S. to deport migrants seeking asylum to another country. Officials say that’s part of their warning in the U.S. advertising campaign.
“Things have changed in the United States. If you get to the border, we have stronger border security there,” said the senior State Department official. “The likelihood of being turned away and returned to your country of origin or to somewhere else is a lot greater.”
Last year, 61 percent of migrants apprehended at the southwest border were from Northern Triangle countries: Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. Now, 61 percent are from Mexico, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
Monthly Border Patrol apprehensions at the southwest border have fallen by nearly 75 percent since May during the height of last year’s border crisis, according to government figures released earlier this month.