Child Immigrants Detained at US Border Reach Record High

United States/Central America (PanAm) – 32,952 Unaccompanied Minors Arrested between October and May

The number of unaccompanied immigrant children detained at the southwestern US border continues to increase and has exceeded the figures recorded for 2015, according to data released by the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection (CPB).

With four months remaining in the fiscal year, which began on  October 1, 2015, it was revealed that 32,952 unaccompanied children have been detained by border authorities, compared to 39,970 that were recorded throughout the previous fiscal year.

If we compare the data recorded up to April of this fiscal year with those in 2014 when there was a wave of child immigrating from Central America (described as a “humanitarian crisis”), the numbers show a similar situation could be repeated this time around.

Through April 2014, there were 36,280 unaccompanied children detained at the border, compared with 32,952 this cycle, numbers that are very similar to those from last year, when the number of children detained by the customs authorities fell to 18,889.

“The Department of Homeland Security and its partner agencies in the federal government continue to closely monitor the humanitarian situation in Central America and its current migration trends,” CBP Spokesperson Jim Burns said.

Immigration reform? Image Source: Fibonacci Blue, Flickr, Creative Commons

Immigration reform?
Image Source: Fibonacci Blue, Flickr, Creative Commons

“We continue working hard to address the underlying causes of this migration, to deter future increases, to further secure our border … and to support regional efforts to provide avenues for the protection of vulnerable populations in Central America,” he added.

The spokesman acknowledged that in recent months the CBP registered “an increase” in the number of apprehensions of unaccompanied children compared to previous months.

“Those increases are consistent with seasonal patterns we have observed in previous years,” he said, “while the number of arrests, including of children and households, in recent months is higher than comparable months in fiscal 2015.”

The CBP spokesman reiterated that most children who reach the southern US border come from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, where violence is common.

Another concern is the increasing pace of unaccompanied minors in the area of Rio Grande, where there has been an increase in income of immigrants from 80 percent compared to fiscal year 2015, and even to the 5 percent in fiscal year 2014.

In the summer of 2014, there was a “humanitarian crisis” in the US due to the wave of children coming across the Mexican border trying to escape the violence and lack of economic opportunities in their home countries — mostly El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.


This report prepared by Elena Toledo for PanAm Post.