Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly made an appearance on Guatemalan television networks on Wednesday to tell people about the “very, very dangerous” things that can happen when you try to enter the U.S. illegally.
“Many Guatemalans, and for that matter irregular migrants from any country, who make the journey north find themselves tortured, beaten, starved, raped or sold into the sex trade,” Kelly said at a press conference as he stood next to Guatemala's Foreign Minister, Carlos Morales.
Secretary Kelly said he was in Guatemala to meet with the president and foreign minister to discuss the “misinformation that leads some Guatemalan citizens to take the very, very dangerous trip north.”
Guatemalan children migrating to the U.S. on their own led in unaccompanied minor apprehensions in the first six months of 2016, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection data analyzed by the Pew Research Center.
Apprehensions of children with at least one parent or guardian at the U.S.-Mexico border also more than doubled in that time period. In the first six months of 2016, there were 32,117 apprehensions of family members compared to 13,913 apprehensions in that same time period in 2015. The surge in family apprehensions were attributed to people from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras fleeing violence and poverty.
Kelly also spoke at a Guatemalan Air Force base event where he greeted 347 deportees who arrived via a U.S. flight.
"If you're a Guatemalan who is considering paying a great deal of money to a coyote (smuggler) to bring you to the United States, you'll be wasting your money," Kelly said.
The secretary said his comments were aimed at the “wonderful people of Guatemala who are considering making the decision to move north across the very, very dangerous route through Mexico to the United states.”
During his visit to Guatemala, Kelly said there would be no massive deportations but warned that recent changes by the President Donald Trump’s administration will allow immigration officials to deport those apprehended much quicker than in the last decade.
“My advice is to not take the risk with your own life or your precious children to make this very very dangerous journey,” Kelly said.