Vice President Joe Biden waves to the crowd as he leaves after delivering his speech at Yonsei University in Seoul December 6, 2013.
Image Reuters

Vice President Joe Biden will add a fourth stop on his tour of Latin American countries this week, heading to Guatemala on Friday to discuss a surge of unaccompanied child migrants with leaders from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, where three-fourths of the children are from. On the agenda, a senior White House official told Politico, will be the violence, crime and lack of economic opportunity cited by many of the children as well as another factor said to be partly responsible for the wave of migration: rumors that minors who make it safely to the United States by the end of this year will be allowed to stay under the 2012 presidential program Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

In reality, DACA only applies to those young undocumented immigrants who have continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007, among other eligibility requirements. And only about 40 percent of unaccompanied minors who are apprehended by US border authorities end up winning the right to remain (at least temporarily) in the country, according to the VERA Institute of Justice. The LA Times reports that while in Guatemala, the vice president will make a public statement emphasizing that protections under DACA -- which include work authorization and deportation relief -- won’t apply to new arrivals. Meanwhile, the administration will launch a PR campaign aimed at setting the record straight, including reaching out to Latino media and delivering public services announcements on the topic.

Biden will also emphasize the dangers faced by undocumented migrants who try to traverse Mexico and cross illegally into the US. “While he’s there in Guatemala he will emphasize that illegal immigration is not safe. That putting your child in the hands of a criminal smuggling organization is not safe,” the White House official told Politico. “The bottom line is that it’s not worth subjecting children to a perilous journey when, at the end of the day, there is no light at the end of the tunnel.”

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