Unaccompanied Alien Children: Potential Factors Contributing to Recent Immigration [July 3, 2014]   [open pdf - 501KB]

"Since FY2008, the growth in the number of unaccompanied alien children (UAC) from Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras seeking to enter the United States has increased substantially. Total unaccompanied child apprehensions increased from about 8,000 in FY2008 to 52,000 in the first 8 ½ months of FY2014. Since 2012, children from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras (Central America's 'northern triangle') account for almost all of this increase. Apprehension trends for these three countries are similar and diverge sharply from those for Mexican children. Unaccompanied child migrants' motives for migrating to the United States are often multifaceted and difficult to measure analytically. Four recent out-migration-related factors distinguishing northern triangle Central American countries are high violent crime rates, poor economic conditions fueled by relatively low economic growth rates, high rates of poverty, and the presence of transnational gangs. In 2012, the homicide rate per 100,000 inhabitants stood at 90.4 in Honduras (the highest in the world), 41.2 in El Salvador, and 39.9 in Guatemala. International Monetary Fund reports show economic growth rates in the northern triangle countries in 2013 ranging from 1.6% to 3.5%, relatively low compared with other Central American countries. About 45% of Salvadorans, 55% of Guatemalans, and 67% of Hondurans live in poverty. Surveys in 2013 indicate that almost half of all unaccompanied children experienced serious harm or threats by organized criminal groups or state actors, and one-fifth experienced domestic abuse."

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, R43628
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