The Surge in Central American Minors Was No Surprise

U-minors-trendThe Department of Homeland Security DHS has released data on the number of unaccompanied minors “encountered” (i.e. apprehended) by the Border Patrol in the 2014 fiscal year ending in September and comparable data for earlier years since 2009. What may readily be seen from the data in the attached chart [gif file]is that the surge began between 2011 and 2012. The number of minors apprehended in 2012 more than doubled (239%) over apprehensions the previous year. That’s when DHS reasonably should have been focused on the developing problem to figure out how to combat it.

Had they done that, they might have been ready for the continued surge in 2013. In that year the level of unaccompanied minors from Central America again more than doubled (208%). But, was the public or the Congress alerted in 2013 that a major problem had developed and was rapidly growing? How is it that it was not until 2014 that the problem appeared in the public awareness? How is it that the government authorities were apparently unprepared for the continued escalation of again a near doubling (183%) of the surge?

It is difficult to believe that the DHS authorities did not notice what was happening. But if they did not, that suggests incompetence. It is equally difficult to believe that the authorities recognized the surge but saw no problem in it worth alerting the public. However, it seems that those are the only two options, and whichever is the case, the public was ill-served.

Finally, the administration has just announced a policy response supposedly designed to decrease the number of unaccompanied minors coming illegally from the three principal source countries in Central America. How will they do that? The new policy is to allow them to come legally. If they have a parent residing illegally in the United States, they will be allowed to come as refugees.

This is neither a valid use of the U.S. refugee program that is designed to offer protection to displaced persons unable to safely return to their home country, nor is it a logical means of combatting illegal immigration. As is readily understood by most policymakers and the public, if you accommodate illegal immigration you are signaling your willingness to accept still more illegal immigration. This most recent action of the administration, therefore, indicates that is pursuing a policy of accommodating and encouraging illegal immigration from Central America. That suggests, as difficult as it is to understand, that the absence of a strong response to the surge in unaccompanied minors as early as 2012 or 2013 was intentional. 

About Author


Jack, who joined FAIR’s National Board of Advisors in 2017, is a retired U.S. diplomat with consular experience. He has testified before the U.S. Congress, U.S. Civil Rights Commission, and U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform and has authored studies of immigration issues. His national and international print, TV, and talk radio experience is extensive (including in Spanish).


  1. avatar

    It doesn’t matter as long as the millions that come are not of European stock. This is Obama’s and the left’s social engineering program, breed the Europeans out of existence. Then America will be one big happy cesspool of kumbaya singing wards of the government. Yes just think of the day when your daughter announces that Abdul the Somali lad from across the street has just impregnated her. Oh the joy, only to be matched when your grand daughter dies from genital mutilation in the name of Allah. Your other daughter is plopping out babies to a pedophile from Central America. God the future looks bright!