Though most minors who have crossed the U.S. border without a parent or guardian are teenagers, the share of unaccompanied children 12 or younger has increased dramatically, according to a new Pew Research report based on previously unreleased government numbers.
Although 90 percent of children taken into custody in fiscal year 2013 were between 13 and 17, that share dropped to 84 percent in fiscal year 2014, while the share of kids 12 and younger crossing without a parent or guardian grew by 117 percent in that time.
The bulk of the young children (14 percent) were between 6 and 12; only 2 percent were 5 or younger and less than 1 percent were younger than 1. The U.S. considers children “unaccompanied” if they are not traveling with a parent or guardian, although they may have traveled with another relative.
Twenty seven percent of the young children came from Honduras, which currently has the world's highest homicide rate. The share of kids coming from El Salvador rose from 17 to 22 percent, and Guatemala's share doubled to 10 percent.
Pew's report also notes there has been a 160 percent increase in children crossing the border with parents or guardians.
The arrival of children crossing the border appears to be slowing, according to data of the last several weeks.
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