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US To Push More ‘Aggressive’ Messaging Effort To Deter Migrants

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The U.S. government will be “more aggressive” in telling migrants not to go to the United States, a top U.S. official said Thursday, after earlier warnings failed to block the flow of thousands of Central Americans. on the US-Mexico border.

“The message isn’t,‘ Don’t go now, ’it’s,‘ Don’t come this way, ever, ’” Roberta Jacobson, the White House’s southern coordinator, told Reuters in an interview. to get to the United States is by legal path. “

The Biden administration is grappling with a growing humanitarian crisis south of the U.S. border, where increasing numbers of migrants fleeing violence, natural disasters and economic hardship in Central America are testing President Joe’s promise. Biden on a more humane immigration policy.

Biden’s promise to end former President Donald Trump’s immigration policies has been complicated by a recent increase in the number of migrants crossing the border illegally. U.S. officials are struggling to track down and process a growing number of unaccompanied children, many of whom are stuck at jail -like border stations as they await placement in overcrowded government shelters.

The Biden administration’s message to would -be migrants has become more stringent in recent days amid strong criticism from opposition Republicans that Biden’s respite from some of Trump’s policies has encouraged people to go to the United States.

Biden officials initially said migrants should not go to the United States now, but they may come later. In an interview with ABC on Tuesday, Biden took a more firm stance, telling migrants to “don’t come” and soon they could “apply for asylum in the area.”

Jacobson reiterated a tougher tone on Thursday, emphasizing that U.S. policy is to evict migrants who try to cross the border illegally, except for unaccompanied children. But he acknowledged that as a U.S. official his warnings could be lost amid the deception of smuggler people telling migrants that the border is open.

He said the United States will step up messaging efforts, using social media, radio and non-governmental organizations in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras to encourage migrants not to travel across the U.S.-Mexico border.

“We will be more aggressive, faster in getting our message out, will try and fight the messages of smugglers and make sure people understand the truth,” he said.

A U.S. State Department spokesman said the effort was underway and included radio outreach in Guatemalan native languages.

U.S. border authorities caught nearly 100,000 migrants at the Mexican border in February, the highest monthly total since mid -2019. Nearly 4,500 children were held in border facilities as of Thursday, a U.S. official said. administration in a call to reporters, a slight increase from Sunday.

While Biden officials said migrant families would be “evicted” to Mexico or their countries under a health law during the Trump era known as Title 42, more than half of the 19,000 family members caught in border in February was not expelled, with many released in the United States.

Jacobson said the expulsions were limited last month by Mexico’s inability to accept them.

“Those numbers will change, actually, from week to week, but the policy is that families will be evicted,” he said.

(Reporting by Ted Hesson in Washington; Additional reporting by Mica Rosenberg in New York; Editing by Ross Colvin)

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