From China to Albania, unaccompanied kids come to U.S. from across the globe

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The flood of migrant children that sparked a humanitarian crisis this summer was mostly a near-shore affair. Almost all of those children — 98 percent — caught and processed by U.S. Border Patrol this fiscal year came from Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador or Mexico.


But kids coming from Central America aren't the only ones trying to slip across the border. According to data obtained by Fusion from U.S. Customs and Border Protection, border agents have caught unaccompanied children arriving from as far away as China, India, Albania and Morocco.

The number of non-Central American kids — measured in the hundreds, not thousands — don't portend an impending wave of child migrants from Europe and Asia. But the data does raise questions about why children might be traveling such lengthy distances for a uncertain chance at entering the United States without documentation. More than two-thirds of these kids caught and processed by U.S. Customs and Border Protection came through the same gateway used by Central American and Mexican children, the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas.

So where are the kids coming from? Here is Fusion's interactive map that shows the countries of origin for unaccompanied minors picked up and processed by U.S. Border Patrol from Oct. 1 to May.

Latin American countries are also represented among the smaller sending groups, but perhaps not in the numbers you might expect. For example, border agents apprehended and processed more than 13,000 Honduran children by May, but only 140 Nicaraguan kids during the same period. Meanwhile, only three unaccompanied minors were apprehended from Costa Rica.

Ted Hesson was formerly the immigration editor at Fusion, covering the issue from Washington, D.C. He also writes about drug laws and (occasionally) baseball. On the side: guitars, urban biking, and fiction.