WASHINGTON — Facing a tide of unaccompanied children pouring into the United States, the Obama administration will send Vice President Joe Biden to Central America this week to make it clear that the children are not eligible for a path to citizenship and could be deported.

Biden will go to Guatemala on Friday at the end of a trip to South America, and will meet with government leaders from that country, El Salvador and Honduras, the administration said.

A senior White House official attributed the flood of children to violence and a lack of economic opportunity in the region. But the official also acknowledged a “misperception of U.S. immigration policy” and said Biden will emphasize that illegal immigration is unsafe and that newly arriving children are not eligible to earn U.S. citizenship.

Critics have suggested that President Obama’s directive in 2012 to allow some undocumented immigrant children to defer deportation is a lure to immigrants.

The directive applies only to children brought to the United States as minors before June 2007, but critics charge that it has encouraged illegal immigration.

Obama has described the situation as an “urgent humanitarian effort,’ but the administration official said Biden would make it clear that while the children are fed and cared for, “unaccompanied immigrant minors are still going through removal proceedings, just like anyone that crosses the border without proper documentation.”