“the administration has tried to send a message to migrants: don’t come.
The Biden administration has been clear from the outset that the border is “not open” and that migrants should not come in an “irregular fashion.” The US continues to turn away the vast majority of arriving migrants under Title 42 of the Public Health Safety Act, with exceptions for unaccompanied children, some families with young children, and people who were sent back to Mexico to wait for their court hearings in the US.
In recent days, the message has gotten even sharper: “I can say quite clearly: Don’t come over,” Biden said in a recent interview with ABC. “Don’t leave your town or city or community.”
The White House has been amplifying that messaging with more than 17,000 radio ads in Brazil, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras since January 21. The ads have played in Spanish, Portuguese, and six Indigenous languages, reaching an estimated 15 million people. There have also been ad campaigns on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, including one that features a Salvadoran who made the dangerous journey north in 2010 at age 19 and was eventually deported after arriving in Texas”
“US messaging may play some role in determining whether people migrate, but it’s only one factor among many sources of information.
Migrants typically get information about the conditions on the border from people in their network who have successfully made the journey, rather than from top-down declarations from US officials. Smugglers have also sought to spread misinformation about the Biden administration’s plans to process asylum seekers. Immigrant advocates on the border have reported hearing rumors spreading that migrants staying in certain camps will be processed or that the border would open at midnight.
These rumors have survived on the hopes of people who have long aspired to migrate. Many of the people arriving on the southern border are fleeing dangerous or unlivable conditions and felt they had no choice but to leave their home countries.
They are primarily coming from Central America’s “Northern Triangle” countries of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, which for years have been suffering from gang-related violence, government corruption, frequent extortion, and some of the highest rates of poverty and violent crime in the world.
The pandemic-related economic downturn and a pair of hurricanes late last year that devastated Honduras and Guatemala in particular have only exacerbated those more longstanding problems.”