Guatemala City: US homeland security secretary John Kelly on Wednesday told Guatemalans not to waste their money trying to get to the US illegally, detailing how his department was cracking down on undocumented immigrants and would speed up deportations.
Speaking after he greeted a plane full of Guatemalans deported back from the US, Kelly said US authorities were not carrying out mass deportations of immigrants and would follow the law.
But he stressed that deportees would be returned to their home countries more quickly than in the past.
“If you’re a Guatemalan who is considering paying a great deal of money to a coyote (smuggler) to bring you to the US, you’ll be wasting your money,” Kelly said at a Guatemalan air force base where 347 deportees earlier arrived on a flight.
“You will be returned very quickly,” he said.
Kelly left Guatemala shortly after speaking to reporters, headed for Mexico where he and US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson were expected to explain new US immigration measures to their counterparts.
US immigration courts have a large backlog of cases, meaning it can take years to deport some undocumented immigrants.
In recent years, tens of thousands of Central American children and families have moved to the US, many seeking asylum from ruthless street gangs.
Kelly made his comments a day after his department said that it planned to deport non-Mexican irregular immigrants to Mexico, regardless of their nationality.
The plan angered Mexican officials, with their lead negotiator and foreign minister Luis Videgaray saying there was no way Mexico would accept it.