Instead of discouraging the wave of illegal child immigrants headed toward the U.S. border, major media outlets in Central America are encouraging the phenomenon in recent news coverage.
In a June 9 report, La Prensa Libre, one of Guatemala's leading dailies, reports that the U.S. Department of Homeland Secruity will not deport minors from countries that do not share a border with the U.S. Elsewhere, the same newspaper quotes Guatemalan Foreign Minister Fernando Carrera as saying that his country has an agreement with U.S. authorities that Guatemalan children will not be deported unless they are accompanied by an adult.
In a June 17 report on Vice President Joe Biden's upcoming visit to the Central American country, La Prensa Libre cites Carrera as saying that in two weeks, the country will launch a public information campaign to discourage the child immigrant wave. According to Carrera, the campaign will be aimed at parents, and will focus on making parents aware of the dangers children face in making the border crossing. Carrera did not mention if the campaign will also include communicating that it is U.S. policy to deport illegal immigrants of any age.
In its June 17 edition, the newspaper also highlights Democrat-sponsored legislation in New York State that would grant voting rights, health care and university scholarships to the state's millions of illegal immigrants. The New York is Home Act, sponsored by state senator Gustavo Rivera (D-Bronx) and state assemblyman Karim Camara (D-Brooklyn) would provide the benefits of citizenship to all undocumented immigrants who can demonstrate three or more years of residence in the state of New York.
On a similar note, the newspaper also reports on Guatemalan President Otto Pérez-Molina's plans to ask the Obama Administration to extend temporary protected status to all illegal immigrants from Guatemala who arrived in the U.S. prior to 2011.
Other major Central American media outlets reporting on the child illegal immigrant wave, such as La Prensa Gráfica in El Salvador and La Prensa in Honduras, have also highlighted the Obama administration's announcement last week of additional "free legal services" for undocumented minors who illegally cross the U.S. border. "We're taking a historic step to strengthen our justice system and protect the rights of the most vulnerable members of society," U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said upon announcing the aid.
Meanwhile, another major Guatemalan newspaper, El Periódico, reports that among the initial 1,000 Central American minors housed at Lackland Air Force base in Texas, two thirds-are from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, while 12% are Mexican. About 80% of the minors housed at the base are male, and 83% are over age 14.
Editor's Note: MRC Latino's Ken Oliver made an invaluable contribution to this piece.