(CNSNews.com) - As the Obama administration tries to warn Central American parents about the dangers of exporting their children to the United States, it appears that some of those parents already know the risks.
Some parents are giving their daughters birth control before they head to the United States -- "in case they're raped along the way," Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson told Congress last week.
"I've met with enough of these kids now, including a 15-year old in Nogales (Ariz.) two weeks ago, who was three months pregnant, to have a real sense for what these kids go through," Johnson told the Senate Appropriations Committee on July 10.
"We've heard about how before they leave Central America, some of these kids' parents actually will give them birth control in case they're raped along the way."
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) told the committee that he'd just received a report from an immigration advocacy group at the University of Chicago Law School describing the ordeal of two unaccompanied children:
"Samuel and Emily are siblings; amazingly, ages 3 and 6 -- 3 and 6. They got here from Honduras. I don't know how," Durbin said.
"When they initially arrived in the United States, they were very quiet and they didn't open up. They were clearly victims of trauma. After two months of care and custody of these 3- and 6-year-old children by HHS, Emily revealed that both children had been raped by members of a local drug cartel.
"I think about those children when I think about this debate. Are they the exception? God, I pray they are. But I'm afraid there are many more with similar stories."
Durbin told the panel that President Obama's $3.7 billion emergency spending request to deal with the flood of children coming to the U.S. illegally does not include enough money "to provide the kind of representation and advocacy to protect these kids."
Committee Chair Sen. Barbara Mikulski said border agents are finding the children "dehydrated, malnourished, scared. Many have been abused. They come here relying on smugglers' false promises, smugglers that are part of dangerous gangs and cartels who see women and children like commodities to be able to buy and sell them across the borders. Children leave home based on lies, endure dangerous journeys and the threat of being trafficked along the way."
As of mid-June of the current fiscal year, the U.S. Border Patrol had apprehended more than 52,000 children at the U.S.-Mexico border. Approximately three-quarters of them originated from El Salvador, Guatemala or Honduras after traveling for weeks through Mexico.
Some die along the way, including a 15-year-old boy who was buried in Guatemala on Saturday.
The Associated Press reported that the decomposed body of Gilberto Francisco Ramos Juarez was discovered on June 15 in the Rio Grande Valley, just over the Texas border with Mexico. He apparently got lost on his way north and likely died from exposure in hot, dry brush country of South Texas.
"Around his neck was a rosary he had received as a gift for his first communion as a Roman Catholic. Scribbled inside his belt buckle was the phone number of an older brother in Chicago he had hoped to reach," the report said.
At last week's hearing, Sen. Susan Collins noted that the influx of Central American children began in 2012. "So we need to look at what happened that year," she said.
"Well, on June 15th of 2012, President Obama took unilateral action and announced his Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy.
"Now let me make clear that I think the president's action was motivated by compassion. But it seems clear to me that it sent the wrong message to those parents in Central America. And it demonstrates what happens when the president unilaterally decides to issue an executive order affecting immigration without securing the border."
Collins noted that the number of children coming to the U.S. from Central America more than doubled between Fiscal Year 2011 and Fiscal Year 2013. "Yet until just recently, the president did not even speak out to warn their parents and to tell them that the journey would be horrendously dangerous for their children and that they would be sent home.
"We know that many of these children have been abused or harmed on their way here. And when the wave became evident two years ago, the president took no action at that time to try to stem the tide," Collins said.
Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas) recently traveled to Central America, where she met with the presidents and first ladies of Guatemala and Honduras. They "want their children back," she said.
"And they're willing to cooperate with us to send the children back as quickly as possible," Granger told Fox & Friends on Tuesday.
"Did they indicate that President Obama had reached out to them? And if so, what did he say?" Elizabeth Hasselbeck asked Granger.
"No, they didn't. They didn't say anything about that," Granger replied.
"I did ask them how helpful it would be if the president of the United States spoke out clearly and strongly and said, don't send your children to the United States illegally, because we will send them back; they will not complete their journey. And they said that could be -- could be very helpful. They did not indicate that that was happening."