On Friday, Border Patrol agents near San Miguel, Arizona, arrested 93 migrants in a single group moving through the desert. Of the 93, 83 were determined to be unaccompanied children. Of those 83, 70 claimed to be between the ages of 15- and 17-years-old.
Unaccompanied children are becoming more common in the area as large groups surrender. In late August, agents arrested more than 100 unaccompanied children in two large groups within 48 hours.
The number of unaccompanied migrant children arrested by Border Patrol this year eclipsed historical records as overall apprehensions. In Fiscal Year 2021, nearly 1 in 10 migrant arrests involve unaccompanied minors. Fiscal Year 2020 saw only a third of the number of minors. To deal with the volume, Health and Human Services (HHS) opened dozens of temporary shelters since February to house children.
HHS is responsible for receiving the children from Border Patrol and finding relatives or sponsors within the United States. The pace of HHS releases struggles to wash with rolling detention levels. In August, HHS released more than 18,000 migrant children. There are nearly 16,000 in federal custody as of Friday, September 3.
According to a source within CBP, another complicating factor is establishing the true age of the children—some claiming to be 16- or 17-years-old. In past years, forensic dentistry was employed to provide a more accurate age to prevent adults from being detained with minors.
Border Patrol typically trusts the information they are provided at the time of apprehension.
Randy Clark is a 32-year veteran of the United States Border Patrol. Prior to his retirement, he served as the Division Chief for Law Enforcement Operations, directing operations for nine Border Patrol Stations within the Del Rio, Texas, Sector. Follow him on Twitter @RandyClarkBBTX.
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