Pew: Most Mexican Migrant Children Caught Several Times at Border

Image: Pew: Most Mexican Migrant Children Caught Several Times at Border Central American immigrants await transportation to a U.S. Border Patrol processing center after crossing the Rio Grande from Mexico into Texas. (John Moore/Getty Images)

Tuesday, 05 Aug 2014 04:33 PM

By Jennifer G. Hickey

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Of the more than 11,000 Mexican minors detained after attempting to illegally enter the United States from Oct. 1 through May 31, only 2,700 said they were being apprehended for the first time, according to new Pew Research Center analysis of Mexican government data.

While the number of illegal minors coming from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador is higher, the actual number of apprehensions of Mexican child migrants is greater because so many are detained multiple times.

Using data obtained from the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Pew analysts determined that 76 percent of the unaccompanied minors had been detained multiple times, including 15 percent who had been apprehended at least six times.

However, the Pew study notes, "the lack of fingerprinting by Mexican authorities makes it difficult to estimate an actual number of children crossing the border."

Unlike children coming from Central America, a vast majority, 95 percent, are deported almost immediately, according to Pew, citing data from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

A recent report released by the National Foundation for American Policy, an Arlington, Virginia-based policy research group, confirms that the increase in actual apprehensions is a consequence of the surge of Central American children.

Employing data provided by the U.S. Border Patrol, the report shows a 45 percent increase in the number of apprehensions since FY2011.

And the number is not likely to decrease. Analysts used data through May 2014 to estimate that the number of apprehensions is on pace to reach 476,557 by the end of FY 2014, which is 45 percent higher than the FY 2011 total of 327,577.

The increase is primarily a result of adults and minors coming from Central America.
In FY 2012, "Other than Mexican" (OTM) apprehensions numbered 99,000, while 266,000 were Mexican, according to the Border Patrol. In FY 2013, the number of “Other Than Mexican” apprehensions increased to 148,988, while the number of apprehensions of Mexicans remained about the same (at 265,409).

Through May 2014, “Other Than Mexican” apprehensions account for 50 percent of the apprehensions along the Southwest border, according to the U.S. Border Patrol, the report states.

A recent Associated Press/GFK poll found 53 percent of Americans do not believe the United States has a moral obligation to grant asylum to refugees fleeing either violence or political persecution. And 52 percent would not characterize as refugees those children who might be trying to escape gang violence.

Poverty and violence have been cited as contributing factors leading to the rise in illegal immigrants from Central America, but the Pew report says there is no clear evidence of a reason for the larger number of Mexican children coming across the border.

For example, Pew examined the differences between the Mexican states of Tamaulipas and Sonora, the border regions from where most illegals originate. About one-in-four (3,077) children apprehended this fiscal year came from Tamaulipas.

According to Pew, Tamaulipas does not have a high poverty rate. However drug-related violence has risen in recent years. The murder rate between 2009 and 2012 nearly quintupled to 46 homicides per 100,000 people, about double the rate of Mexico overall.

However, Sonora, which borders Arizona, has a low poverty rate and a low homicide rate (19 per 100,000). The study notes that Sonora happens to be a "hub for migrants traveling across Mexico by train to reach the United States."

Stuart Anderson, NFAP executive director and the report's author, contends one possible solution is to establish bilateral agreements with Mexico and Central America that "authorize work permits for nationals of those countries in exchange for cooperation on immigration enforcement."

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