The US government has launched a new ad campaign in response to the dramatic increase in the number of undocumented immigrants crossing the border. The campaign is designed to highlight the danger of illegal immigration and is aimed largely at El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras in the hope of dissuading people from hiring people smugglers or ‘coyotes’, which offer potentially dangerous services.
The Dangers Awareness Campaign will be spreading this message via around 6,500 prerecorded public service announcements broadcast on local radio and TV channels and on hundreds of billboards in the targeted countries. Customs and Border Protection commissioner Gil Kerlikowske announced the campaign, telling a press conference in Mission, Texas on Wednesday that “we have to stem the flow”.
Customs and Border Protection says the aim of the campaign is to reduce risk on both sides. More than 52,000 unaccompanied immigrant minors have tried to cross the border into America since last October and 226 immigrants have died attempting to make the passage during the same time period. This point was brought home recently when a Guatemalan boy was found dead just one mile from the Rio Grande, having apparently been trying to get to Chicago to find his brother.
The advertisements featured in the campaign will include a mini-story about immigration and are set to conclude with the strapline: “They are our future. Protect them.” Jaime Ruiz, a spokesman for Customs and Border Protection, says the intent is to counter the story being told to potential immigrants by smugglers.