In the first three months of 2015, Mexico deported 39,316 Central American migrants, 99 percent (38,961) of whom are from Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala, including 5,273 unaccompanied children. The Mexican government has maintained strict and increased immigration enforcement since last summer, when it announced its Southern Border Plan. The total number of Central Americans deported during first three months of 2015 represents a 79 percent increase from the corresponding months in 2014, according to recently released data from Mexico’s National Migration Institute (Instituto Nacional de Migración, INM).
Most striking, however, is that unaccompanied minor deportations from Mexico are now on par with unaccompanied minor apprehensions in the United States. Between October 2014 and March 2015, Mexico deported 9,671 unaccompanied children from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. In this same time period, U.S. Border Patrol apprehended 9,802 unaccompanied children from these three countries. This 1:1 correlation stands in sharp contrast to last year (October 2013-September 2014) when Mexico deported one-third as many unaccompanied Central American children as the United States apprehended (thus a 1:3 correlation), with 16,201 children deported from Mexico compared to 51,705 apprehended at the U.S. border.
This numerical similarity makes clear that Mexico has taken on a new role as an immigration enforcer, and that this role has come at least partially in response to U.S. pressure. Moreover, these statistics reveal that, though the impact is not being felt as strongly at the U.S. border, Central American migrants continue to flee north in large numbers. This raises important humanitarian concerns: we know that a significant portion of minors leaving Central America are motivated by specific threats to their security, yet Mexico is not adequately screening these children for protection concerns, and the overwhelming majority are deported rapidly back to the situations they were fleeing. Given the high levels of violence and poverty in Central America, it is critical that Mexico screens migrants so that refugees and victims of trafficking or other crimes receive the protection they need.
For more WOLA analysis on border and migration issues, see:
- Latest Border Stats Suggest Higher Family, Child Migration in 2015 than Official Projections, April 2015, by Adam Isacson
- New Figures Show Sharp Increase in Deportations from Mexico, April 2015
- Mexico’s Southern Border Plan: More Deportations and Widespread Human Rights Violations, March 2015, by Clay Boggs
- New Developments along Mexico’s Southern Border, October 2014, by Maureen Meyer, Clay Boggs, and Rodolfo Córdova
- Mexico’s Other Border, June 2014, by Adam Isacson and Maureen Meyer