WOLA: Advocacy for Human Rights in the Americas
31 Oct 2014 | Commentary

Mexicans Now the Minority of Migrant Apprehensions at the U.S.-Mexico Border

Most migrants apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border this year were not Mexican.

In fiscal year 2014 (which ended September 30), for the first time ever, Mexican citizens made up less than half of the migrants whom U.S. Border Patrol apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border. Arrivals from Central America—many of them unaccompanied minors—made up nearly all of the 53 percent majority of “non-Mexican” apprehended migrants.

Migration from Mexico, meanwhile, continues to decline. The 226,777 Mexicans apprehended at the border are the smallest number since the early 1970s. A larger number of people apprehended at the border last year—252,600—were not Mexican.

The apparent reason for this shift: Mexico’s economy is growing—though not robustly—while family sizes shrink and the middle class grows. In Central America, though, especially El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, violence and lack of opportunity are expelling people at an increasing rate.

Though Border Patrol has not yet released its official 2014 apprehension figures, I derive this graph from the following sources:

  • Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson’s October 9 address at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, which included a slide [PDF] showing 479,377 apprehended migrants in 2014, the highest figure since 2009; and
  • Border Patrol’s latest update on Southwest Border Unaccompanied Alien Children, which shows 252,600 “non-Mexicans” apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border in 2014.

For 2000-2013 data, see the third page of this document [PDF] from Border Patrol.