The number of children crossing the border illegally without a parent or guardian has risen dramatically in recent years. Just last week, President Obama called it an “urgent humanitarian situation” and federal officials have been converting military facilities across the country into shelters for thousands of young migrants.
How dramatic is the rise in unaccompanied minors coming to the U.S.? The Pew Research Center gives us some startling perspective on the issue with this chart:
Keep in mind, the statistics shown here for the 2014 fiscal year only include apprehensions before May 31. The fiscal year runs until September 30, so the total number of children caught at the border will be even higher.
The increase in children caught crossing the border in South Texas tracks with an overall jump in migrant traffic in that area. From the 2011 fiscal year to the 2013 fiscal year, the number of people caught in the Rio Grande border sector more than doubled, going from 59,000 to 154,000.
Still, there are disproportionate amounts of kids crossing by themselves. Just compare the Rio Grande sector to another border area in Arizona, the Tucson sector.
The number of apprehensions in Rio Grande (154,000) and Tucson (121,000) were pretty similar during the 2013 fiscal year. But the number of unaccompanied minors caught in Rio Grande (12,500) was nearly double the amount caught in Tucson (6,500) over that period. And the difference has become much more pronounced in 2014.
Where are all the kids coming from? Central America and Mexico, although the increase in young crossers is largely coming from three countries: Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador.
Pew shows us just how many more children are crossing alone from those countries:
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.