Panama City, Panama (CBS DC) — Secretary of State John Kerry is visiting Central America with the two-part message that the U.S. plans to deport thousands of immigrant children and that the region’s leaders need to combat the “false information” supporting an illegal entry into America.
Speaking to Central American leaders in Panama Tuesday, Kerry said the influx of child immigrants is a problem for all of the countries: “This is a very complicated issue, and it’s not a question of assigning blame. The only people to blame are the criminals who exploit young children.”
President Salvador Sanchez Ceren of El Salvador, President Otto Fernando Perez Molina of Guatemala, and Foreign Minister Mireya Aguero Trejo de Corrales of Honduras were in attendance to discuss the more than 52,000 unaccompanied children who have been detained after crossing the Texas-Mexico border since October in what President Barack Obama has labeled an “urgent humanitarian crisis.”
According to Kerry, many of the migrants are given “false information” that they will receive leniency from U.S. authorities. Kerry stressed that the “rules of law” will be upheld in the U.S., and immigrants cannot enter the country illegally despite “looking for that better life” in America.
“There are challenges of the economy, jobs, violence, of the social inequities. And we obviously understand people who want to be able to do better and to look for a better life,” said Kerry.
“But at the same time, there are rules of law and there is a process and there is false information that is being spread about benefits that might be available to these young people who are looking for that better life,” continued Kerry.
“And so we need to work together, to communicate to our people, to try to apply the law, and most importantly, to work with each of these countries to address the fundamental underlying causes of this particular challenge.”
Obama announced this week that he will be making a request of Congress for $2 billion for immediate relief to ongoing flood of immigrants coming across U.S. borders. The White House on Monday said the president would implement an “aggressive deterrence strategy” for stopping the surge of children.