Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Children Apprehended in Growing Numbers at US-Mexico Border

A new report published by TRAC using never before seen data shows that since 2008, Border Patrol has been encountering growing numbers of children, including unaccompanied minors and children within families.

According to TRAC’s findings, there has been a seventeen-fold increase in unaccompanied minors apprehended while trying to cross the US-Mexico border and a striking five-fold rise in all children apprehended. Despite this recent growth of minors arriving at the border, the total number of total border apprehensions remains lower than in the 1990s.

Highlights from TRAC’s recent report include:

  • In FY 2011, Border Patrol apprehended 23,089 total children. In FY 2021, that number was 293,218.
  • The proportion of children from Mexico has declined since FY 2008, replaced by larger numbers of children from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. The proportion of all apprehensions who were children (including unaccompanied and in families) has increased from about 8 percent in FY 2008 to about 37 percent in FY 2019.
  • Children apprehended by the Border Patrol have become an increasing proportion of all apprehensions, even taking into account discounting the FY 2020-2021 period when Title 42 expulsions artificially changed the make-up of individuals relegated to those processed under Title 8.
  • The proportion of unaccompanied children alone rose from one percent of all Title 8 apprehensions in FY 2008 to 9 percent in FY 2019.
  • Recent numbers of border apprehensions remain lower than the early 1950s and the 1990s, especially when apprehensions relative to the country’s population are taken into account.
  • Beginning largely in FY 2019 there has been a sharp increase from other countries including Brazil, Ecuador and Nicaragua, with some growth from Venezuela, Cuba, Chile, and Haiti, as well as Romania and, for a time, India.

These findings were made possible as a result of a decade-long effort involving more than a hundred separate Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to Customs and Border Protection (CBP). TRAC analyzed over 6.5 million Border Patrol apprehensions for this report.


TRAC’s report on border apprehensions is available here: https://trac.syr.edu/immigration/reports/687. See the data for yourself at  TRAC’s newly updated and free Border Patrol web-query tool.

- Austin Kocher


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