Early FY 2016 Statistics for Unaccompanied Alien Children Apprehended at the Border

Alexander J. Segal's picture

The Customs and Border Protection (CBP) released statistics comparing the number of unaccompanied alien children crossing the southwest border in early FY 2016 to the same period in FY 2015 [see CBP article]. In this article, we examine the news in the article and reproduce its interesting charts for your convenience.

News and Notes from the CBP

The CBP highlights actions that the broader Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) are taking to manage the spike in unaccompanied minors crossing the southwest border in FY 2016. The article notes that DHS and CBP are working together to address the needs of the unaccompanied children “without disrupting the vital national security of the Border Patrol.”

The Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) at the HHS is working to increase its temporary capacity to house unaccompanied children. In November, the ORR increased its capacity from 7,900 to 8,400 beds, and it is preparing additional temporary bed space to respond to future contingencies.

The CBP states that it is working to address the underlying causes of and deter future increases in unauthorized migration. However, the CBP is balancing these border security goals with ensuring that those with legitimate humanitarian claims in the United States are permitted to seek immigration protection.


The following charts are courtesy of the CBP [see article].

Before looking at the charts particular to the southwest border, let us look at the CBP's chart for unaccompanied alien children encountered by fiscal year for the fiscal years 2009-2016:

Unaccompanied Alien Children Encountered by Fiscal Year

[Numbers below reflect Fiscal Years 2009-2015, FY 2016 (October 1, 2015 — January 31, 2016)]

Country FY 2009 FY 2010 FY 2011 FY 2012 FY 2013 FY 2014 FY 2015 FY 2016
El Salvador 1,221 1,910 1,394 3,314 5,990 16,404 9,389 5,766
Guatemala 1,115 1,517 1,565 3,835 8,068 17,057 13,589 7,520
Honduras 968 1,017 974 2,997 6,747 18,244 5,409 3,152
Mexico 16,114 13,724 11,768 13,974 17,240 15,634 11,012 3,726

The overall number of unaccompanied alien children encountered at the border reached its height in FY 2014. That number, while still relatively high, declined in FY 201. Since FY 2013, the number of unaccompanied alien children from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras dramatically increased from the previous years on the chart. Additionally, FY 2013 also saw the highest number of unaccompanied alien children from Mexico. However, the number of unaccompanied children encountered from Mexico decreased in FY 2014 and hit is lowest point on the chart in FY 2016.

The chart only contains partial statistics for FY 2016. As we will see in the subsequent charts, the number of unaccompanied alien children is thus far outpacing FY 2015 in every sector over the same time period. Of note, the number of unaccompanied alien children from El Salvador and Guatemala has been very high thus far in FY 2016. Honduras has been quite high as well. However, the number of unaccompanied alien children from Mexico appears to be in line with the other years on the chart.

For the foregoing charts, please note that FY 2016 only covers the period from October 1, 2015 to January 31, 2016. FY 2015 covers the same time period for FY 2015.

Southwest Border Unaccompanied Alien Children (0-17 Yr old) Apprehensions

Sector Fiscal Year 2015 Fiscal Year 2016 % Change
Big Bend Sector 83 518 >500%
Del Rio Sector 414 972 135%
El Centro Sector 147 330 124%
El Paso Sector 350 1,186 239%
Laredo Sector 743 997 34%
Rio Grande Sector 6,043 12,289 103%
San Diego Sector 307 493 61%
Tucson Sector 1,849 2,492 35%
Yuma Sector 169 1,178 >500%
Southwest Border Total 10,105 20,455 102%

Thus far in FY 2016, CBP has apprehended more unaccompanied alien children in every sector than it did in the corresponding time period for FY 2016. The increases range from modest to extreme (take note of the nearly 700% increase in the Yuma Sector).

Southwest Border Family Unit Apprehensions

[“(Family Unit represents the number of individuals (either a child under 18 years old, parent or legal guardian) apprehended with a family member by the U.S. Border Patrol.)”]

Sector Fiscal Year 2015 Fiscal Year 2016 % Change
Big Bend Sector 90 582 >500%
Del Rio Sector 375 1,310 249%
El Centro Sector 168 405 141%
El Paso Sector 116 1,545 >500%
Laredo Sector 460 632 37%
Rio Grande Sector 6,435 16,359 154%
San Diego Sector 556 678 22%
Tucson Sector 715 1,298 82%
Yuma Sector 175 1,807 >500%
Southwest Border Total 9,090 24,616 171%

Furthermore, FY 2016 has also seen a dramatic rise in the number of family unit apprehensions from the same time period in FY 2015. In fact, the 171% increase in family unit apprehensions far outpaces the 102% increase in apprehensions of unaccompanied alien children. It remains to be seen whether these trends throughout the rest of FY 2016.

Early FY 2016 Statistics for Unaccompanied Alien Children Apprehended at the Border