U.S. ad campaign aimed at deterring migrant exodus

A U.S. Customs and Border Protection $1 million campaign to deter the continuing exodus of unaccompanied children at the Mexican border will be outlined Wednesday in downtown Miami.

Commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowske launched the multimedia Spanish-language campaign in July in Central America and Mexico calling on community groups, media, parents and relatives to “safeguard and protect” the lives of migrant children by preventing them from making the voyage to the border.

“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 in a statement. “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."

Through the campaign in Central America, border patrol officials hope to warn families of the dangers that unaccompanied minors face if they attempt to travel to the border. The campaign also seeks to counter “misperceptions” that migrant smugglers are allegedly spreading about immigration benefits for those who enter the United States illegally.

The campaign includes events with local media in Spanish in major metropolitan areas with high concentrations of Central Americans such as Miami, Houston, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and New York. The public service announcements began airing July 7 in El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. Around 6,500 public service announcements will be broadcast on radio and television until September.

Some of the ads include the song La Bestia (the beast), named after the Mexican freight trains the migrants ride to the United States from the Guatemalan border. Posters also will be displayed to spread the message in those countries, U.S. border officials said. In addition to radio, TV and print ads, the campaign also includes 233 billboards — 193 in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador; and 40 in Mexico in the states of Chiapas, Tabasco, Veracruz and Oaxaca.

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