The number of unaccompanied minors at the southwest border was up 77% in FY 2014 while family apprehensions were up 361% overall compared to the previous year.
The full data set for the 2014 fiscal year is not yet available yet, but some data on the surge of children and families from Central America is posted on the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol’s website. The data available shows FY13 and FY14 compared by sectors of the border. So, for instance, apprehensions of unaccompanied children (UAC’s) in the Tucson sector were down 9% in FY14, but this drop was more than outweighed by a surge in the Rio Grande sector where apprehensions were up 132%. The total number of UAC apprehensions went from 38,759 in FY13 to 68,541 in FY14, a 77% jump.
The surge in Family Unit Apprehensions (often a mother and child) was even greater. The total number in FY13 was 14,855 but in FY14 it was up 361% overall to 68,445. Additional data confirms that most of the surge has come from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.
The data on border apprehensions seems to have been held for release until after last week’s midterm elections. The Center for Investigative Reporting points out that the full data set for FY14 (which ended Sep. 30) was briefly published on the Customs and Border Patrol website on October 10th, a full month ago. After five hours the data was pulled down, with the exception of the general stats on UACs and Family Apprehensions.
The Obama administration had highlighted a drop in apprehensions in July and August. This decline (to still historically high numbers) corresponds with a White House initiated messaging campaign, including ads on Spanish radio and television. The campaign was built around the message that the journey to America was dangerous and that minors arriving now would not be eligible for deferred action under DACA. This message was the focus of a speech the Vice President delivered in Guatemala and a major point in a Spanish language op-ed written by DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson. The op-ed said in part:
The U.S. Government’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program,
also called “DACA,” does not apply to a child who crosses the U.S.
border illegally today, tomorrow or yesterday. To be eligible for DACA, a
child must have been in the United States prior to June 15, 2007 –
seven years ago.