Posted: Jun 25, 2014 3:42 PM
Updated: Jun 30, 2014 3:04 PM
RIO GRANDE VALLEY - Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson wrote to Central American parents who are considering sending their children to the United States in the hand of smugglers.
He is asking them to think twice.
CHANNEL 5 NEWS obtained a copy of that letter, which is eight paragraphs long.
In the letter Secretary Johnson said the risk of sending a child alone to the United States is far greater than the reward, and could result in death rather than freedom.
So far this year, the parents of 47,000 children were place in the care of human smugglers.
The parents hoped the children would make it across the border and into the arms of loved ones in the United States. Mirna says sending her son alone from El Salvador was not an option.
"I don't agree with them, sending children by themselves. If I decided to bring my child, it is because I was going to take care of him, even if that meant I wouldn't be eating," said Mirna.
The numbers so far this year are startling and expected to climb. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson says the risk they face, are in black and white.
"They suffer during that journey," said Johnson. "It's not like they have a parent taking care of them."
Mirna only had one child with her on the journey. She says she, along with other young children, were responsible for protecting children who were alone.
"I was taking care of a four-year-old girl, but she didn't even know where she was from. If you would ask El Salvador, she would say yes. If you would say Honduras, she would say yes. She was apparently traumatized because she was wetting herself," said Mirna.
Johnson says, rumors are swirling in other countries that women and children and families are getting "permisos" or free passes. He says that is simply not true. He asks if sending a child alone is worth them not arriving alive.