Report: Mexico Will Apprehend More Central American Migrants Than US

By Kate Sheehy
September 08, 2015
Kate Sheehy
A mother and her children leave a deportation processing center after returning to El Salvador in 2014.

TUCSON, Ariz. — Mexico is shouldering a growing share of the enforcement of unauthorized migration from Central America’s Northern Triangle: El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. This is changing long-standing trends of apprehensions and deportations in the United States and Mexico.

A new report from the Migration Policy Institute shows while U.S. numbers will continue to fall, apprehensions in Mexico will likely increase by about 70 percent in 2015.

Apprehensions in the U.S. increased fivefold between 2010 and 2014, reaching a peak with the crisis of unaccompanied children from Central America last year. Up until 2014, U.S. apprehensions were increasing much faster than in Mexico.

MPI's report predicts that relationship will reverse and Mexico will apprehend more Central American migrants in 2015 than the U.S.

The report shows apprehensions in the U.S. have drastically decreased since 2014, while Mexico’s numbers have continued to rise. 

Marc Rosenblum with MPI said this is a good indicator of the number of people leaving El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.

“And that overall number is down, which suggests something is causing fewer people to leave, but it’s not down nearly as dramatically as the number at the U.S. border,” Rosenblum said. 

The report shows Mexico has deported six times more child migrants than the U.S. The two countries have deported more than 40,000 unaccompanied minors back to their home countries in Central America. 

Victoria Reitig, one of the authors of the report, said long-term services such as access to schools, job training and employment are key to addressing the root causes of migration.

“Services to receive and reintegrate these deportees need to be adapted to accommodate not just the larger numbers, but also accommodate the different needs of child and adult deportees,” said Reitig.

Reitig said right now there is limited knowledge of what services will work.

MPI plans to release another report in the coming weeks that examines reintegration services in the Northern Triangle. 

The report also looks at the characteristics of deportees to El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. Most deportees do not have a criminal background. Most adult deportees are young males with little education and experience in low or unskilled jobs. Children are primarily boys between 12 and 17 years old, although the number of girls increased along with family migration in 2013.