New Data on Unaccompanied Minors Shows Decreasing Trend

By Tom K. Wong, Ph.D. tomkwong@ucsd.edu, @twong002

New data released by U.S. Customs and Border Protection on the number of unaccompanied minors coming to the U.S. shows a decreasing trend.

As of June 30, 2014, 56,547 unaccompanied minors from El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, and Mexico were apprehended at the Southwest border. This represents a monthly average of 6,283 for FY 2014. In July, 5,034 children were apprehended at the border. This represents a decrease of -19.9% in the average monthly intake.

Focusing only on the three Central American countries—El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala—that account for the bulk of the recent increase in unaccompanied minors also shows a decrease. As of June 30, 2014, 43,933 unaccompanied minors from El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala were apprehended at the Southwest border. This represents a monthly average of 4,881 for FY 2014. In July, 3,973 children from these three countries were apprehended at the border. This represents a decrease of -18.6%.

Looking more closely at the data, we see that the monthly inflow of unaccompanied minors from El Salvador (-12.7%), Guatemala (-43.6%), and Mexico (-24.3%) have decreased, while the monthly inflow of unaccompanied minors from Honduras has increased (+5.2%).

While these data are encouraging, the general decrease in the number of unaccompanied children coming to the Southwest border does not necessarily mean that there will not be another spike. Specifically, annual apprehensions data from U.S. Customs and Border Protection shows a general overall decrease in apprehensions at the Southwest border during the summer months.