Just as the conservative U.S. Supreme Court upholds the administration’s anti-Muslim travel ban, Vice President Mike Pence announced from Brazil’s capital that if Central Americans "can't come (to the United States) legally, don't come at all."
"To the people of Central America, I have a message for you. Don't risk your lives or the lives of your children by trying to come to the United States on a road run by drug smugglers and human traffickers. If you can't come legally, don't come at all" trumpeted Pence.
The vice president is on a several day tour of Central and South America hoping to drum up support for the U.S. government’s anti-Venezuela agenda. On Tuesday, he and Brazilian president Michel Temer discussed the migration of Venezuelans into Brazil, and trade and business between their two countries.
During the meeting, Temer even offered to help with transportation costs back to Brazil for the roughly 50 Brazilian families separated by U.S. authorities at its southern border under President Donald Trump’s "zero tolerance" mandate. The policy, which seeks to criminalize all those entering the country without documents, has separated some 2,300 children from their parents, 2,000 of whom have yet to be reunited.
Pence is scheduled to leave for Ecuador on Wednesday where the governments both recently agreed to invite the U.S. military to intervene in mounting violence at Ecuador’s northern border.
By Thursday the vice president will head to Guatemala to be joined by the U.S. director of the Department of Homeland Security Secretary, Kirstjen Nielsen in order to meet with the presidents of Guatemala and Honduras, and El Salvador’s vice president. Top on their agenda is U.S. immigration.
The vast majority of the families separated over the past six weeks at the U.S.-Mexico border are asylum seekers who hailing from these Central American countries that have some of the highest murder and rates of inequality in Latin America.
Though signed an executive order last Wednesday to not separate families but would keep a strict "zero tolerance" policy in place, it did not address how to legally keep families intact for an extended period of time, where to house them and assess their legal status.
On Sunday the president tweeted that anyone who has entered without documents they should "immediately" be sent "back from where they came ... with no Judges or Court Cases."
The administration is now being sued by 17 states for its questionably legal separation practice.