Children under 12 are increasingly crossing the border

Border CrossingAs the number of unaccompanied children trying to cross the U.S.-Mexico border has surged, the increase in apprehensions among children ages 12 and younger has been far greater than among teens, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of previously unreleased government data.

The new data show a 117% increase in the number of unaccompanied children ages 12 and younger caught at the U.S.-Mexico border this fiscal year compared with last fiscal year. By comparison, the number of apprehensions of unaccompanied teenagers ages 13-17 has increased by only 12% over the same time period.

Even though the growth is higher among younger children, the bulk of unaccompanied children caught at the border remain teenagers. In fiscal year 2013, nine-in-ten minors apprehended at the border were teens. This share has dropped as the number of younger children making the dangerous trip has risen dramatically: In the first eight months of fiscal year 2014, 84% were teens.

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