For Immediate Release
DHS Press Office
Secretary Johnson observes the reception of a repatriation flight in El Salvador. DHS photo by Barry Bahler.
Secretary Johnson participates in a media availability in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. DHS photo by Barry Bahler.
Last week I visited El Salvador and Honduras. I met with the Presidents and other senior officials of both countries. While in both countries, I also visited reception centers that welcome those who have been sent home by the U.S. government after entering our country illegally. I observed the arrival of a repatriation flight. I am impressed with the efforts both governments are making to repatriate, resettle, and reintegrate their citizens who have been deported home by our country.
My message in both countries: our borders are not open to illegal or “irregular” migration. If you have been apprehended at our border, have a final order of removal, and have no pending claim for asylum or other humanitarian relief under our laws, we must send you home. We must enforce U.S. immigration laws consistent with our enforcement priorities, and we will continue to do so. Accordingly, in both El Salvador and Honduras, we continue to send migrants who have been ordered deported home at a rate of around 6 flights a week each. And, since the beginning of this fiscal year (October 1, 2015) we have sent home more than 11,000 migrants to El Salvador and Honduras each.
Irregular migration from Central America to the United States is dangerous. While in Central America, I continued to hear the heart-breaking stories of men, women, and children who have been exploited by smugglers, who take their money, and in many cases physically abuse them, hold them against their will, and extort more money from them once the migrants are in their grasp. Like the governments of El Salvador and Honduras, the U.S. government will continue to highlight the dangers of illegal or irregular migration to the United States.
At the same time, we are also cracking down on these criminal smuggling organizations, to prevent further exploitation of migrants. In the last two and a half years, we have made over 6,000 arrests of these criminal smugglers.
The U.S. government is now offering an alternative, safe, and legal path to the United States, through our Central American Minors Program. To date, we have received more than seven thousand applications to this program, and we have approved more than 1,100 of these applications in El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. We are working to increase the number of individuals we are able to approve under this Program, and to further expand refugee processing in general in the region. For more information about the Central American Minors Program, go to https://www.uscis.gov/CAM.
In our enforcement of the immigration laws, our personnel will not apprehend someone at a school, hospital, place of worship, or other sensitive location, except in emergency circumstances. At all times, we will enforce U.S. immigration law consistent with our enforcement priorities, and with our values.