PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. - The children of the immigration crisis at our borders are finding their American home here in south Florida, according to one local expert.
Jose Cerrato, President & Founder of the Honduran Organization of Palm Beach says that many children from Latin American nations are getting off airplanes Palm Beach International Airport.
With each touch down PBIA, the immigration crisis that's unfolding on the U.S. & Mexico border may be landing much closer to home.
"Zero opportunity," said Cerrato who is able to offer a unique inside look as to how children from Latin America may be walking right trough PBIA airport every single day.
Relatives who are already living in south Florida send money to family members in their home country, according to Cerrato. Those family members, he said, pay several thousands of dollars to human smugglers or "coyotes" to transport the children up to and across the U.S. border.
"They're putting the children in the criminal's hands because the coyotes are criminal," he said.
Once on American soil, the children are processed by immigration officials. Cerrato said if they're not sent back immediately for security or health reasons, immigration officials then contact relatives that are already in the U.S.; in south Florida, for example. Those relatives, Cerrato said, then pay for an airline ticket to have the child flown to where they are. He said it is happening at PBIA on a daily basis.
"The people wait for children from Arizona, from Houston, from San Diego, wherever," he said.
Cerrato said a 15-year old girl from Honduras walked through the airport on Thursday as one of the many young people caught in the middle of a major immigration crisis.
Cerrato said he is not part of the process of getting kids across the border or to south Florida, but he said he does try to help them once they are here. Those families, he said, were not willing to be a part of this story.