Detainees Under 12 Fastest Growing Group at U.S. Border

By Brendan Case July 22, 2014

Children 12-years-old or younger are the fastest-growing group of unaccompanied minors being apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border, according to a study by the Pew Research Center.

U.S. border apprehensions of unaccompanied kids in that age range reached 7,460 during the first eight months of the U.S. government’s fiscal year, more than twice the number in the entire previous year, Pew said in the study published today.

There was a 12 percent increase in captures of minors aged 13 to 17.

Rising detentions are part of a surge in unaccompanied children arriving in the U.S. from Central America’s violent “northern triangle” of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. About 57,000 unaccompanied children were stopped by U.S. authorities trying to enter the country in the nine months through June 30, up from 16,000 in 2011.

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“The increase in apprehensions among children ages 12 and younger has been far greater than among teens,” the Pew report by Jens Manuel Krogstad, Ana Gonzalez-Barrera and Mark Hugo Lopez said.

“A larger share of Honduran unaccompanied minors are younger than 12, compared with those from other countries.”

Children age 13 to 17 represented 84 percent of unaccompanied minors captured at the border during the eight months ending May 31, Pew said. The comparable figure for fiscal year 2013 was 90 percent, Pew said.

U.S. President Barack Obama will meet with the presidents of the three northern triangle countries on July 25 in Washington. Congress is debating his request for $3.7 billion in emergency funding to address the crisis.

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To contact the reporter on this story: Brendan Case in Mexico City at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Bill Faries at; Philip Sanders at Randall Woods