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United States Border Patrol Southwest Family Unit Subject and Unaccompanied Alien Children Apprehensions Fiscal Year 2016


In Fiscal Year 2016, total apprehensions by the Border Patrol on our southwest border, between ports of entry, numbered 408,870.  This represents an increase over FY15, but was lower than FY14 and FY13, and a fraction of the number of apprehensions routinely observed from the 1980s through 2008.  Apprehensions are an indicator of total attempts to cross the border illegally.  Meanwhile, the demographics of illegal migration on our southern border has changed significantly over the last 15 years – far fewer Mexicans and single adults are attempting to cross the border without authorization, but more families and unaccompanied children are fleeing poverty and violence in Central America.  In 2014, Central Americans apprehended on the southern border outnumbered Mexicans for the first time.  In 2016, it happened again.

 FY 13FY14FY15FY16
Unaccompanied children38,75968,54139,97059,692
Family units14,85568,44539,83877,674

Unaccompanied children and families have presented new challenges in our immigration system.  I have traveled to the southwest border 17 times over the last 34 months as Secretary and have seen this personally.  We are determined to treat migrants in a humane manner.  At the same time, we must enforce our immigration laws consistent with our enforcement priorities.  This has included, and will continue to include, providing individuals with an opportunity to assert claims for asylum and other forms of humanitarian relief. 

At the same time, we are providing safe, alternative paths to our country for individuals in need of humanitarian protection.  Earlier this year, the Government of Costa Rica announced its agreement to enter into a protection transfer arrangement with the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees and the International Organization for Migration to help address the Central American migration challenge. We’re also establishing an in-country referral program in countries of origin including Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala.  This program enables vulnerable residents in the region to be considered for refugee protection in the United States after being screened and interviewed by DHS officers. We have also announced an expansion of the categories of individuals eligible for participation in our Central American Minors program when accompanied by a qualified child.  We promote and encourage use of these programs.

Border security alone cannot overcome the powerful push factors of poverty and violence that exist in Central America. Walls alone cannot prevent illegal migration.  Ultimately, the solution is long-term investment in Central America to address the underlying push factors in the region. We continue to work closely with our federal partners and the governments in the region, and are pleased with the $750 million Congress approved in FY 2016 for support and aid to Central America. We urge Congress to provide additional resources in FY 2017.

But, there is more to do for border security.  I urge the next administration and the next Congress to continue to make smart investments in border security technology, equipment and other resources.  This is what our experts on the border – those on the front lines every day, charged with the responsibility of protecting our borders – tell me each time I ask them. 

At all times throughout President Obama’s administration, we have endeavored to enforce the immigration laws in a fair and humane way, consistent with the immigration system we have.   But, the reality is the system is broken, and badly in need of comprehensive immigration reform that only Congress can provide.  For one thing, we must reckon with the millions of undocumented immigrants who live in the shadows in this country, who’ve been here for years, and who should be given the opportunity to come forward and get right with the law.  It is my profound hope that the next Congress will finally address this and other issues, and enact comprehensive immigration reform. 

Other points:

  • The new immigration enforcement priorities President Obama and I announced in November 2014, which focus on serious convicted criminals and those apprehended at the border, are being implemented effectively by our immigration enforcement personnel.  Our priorities are reflected in actual results.  Today, over 99% of those in immigration detention fit within one of our enforcement priorities, and around 85% are within the top priority for removal.  In 2009, just 35% of those deported by ICE were convicted criminals; today that percentage is about 60%.  Enforcement actions that began early this year, focused on families and unaccompanied children now over 18 that were apprehended at the border, have continued.
  • Last week, I paid my sixth visit to Mexico as Secretary of Homeland Security.  On this visit I met with President Peña Nieto, my counterpart the Secretary of Government Miguel Osorio Chong, Secretary of Foreign Affairs Claudia Ruiz Massieu, Secretary of Finance Jose Antonio Meade, and Attorney General Arely Gomez Gonzalez.  Our working relationship is strong, and we’ve committed to do even more for our mutual border security interests.  Additionally, we’ve resolved to create a standing U.S.-Mexican working group, staffed largely with career officials, to ensure a permanent dialogue on security issues that will sustain itself past the Obama and Peña Nieto Administrations. 
  • In recent months we’ve seen an influx of Haitian nationals on our southern border, principally at certain land ports of entry.  On September 22, I announced we would resume removals of Haitian nationals in accordance with our existing enforcement priorities.  In light of Hurricane Matthew, which struck Haiti on October 4, removal flights to Haiti have been suspended temporarily.  Working with the Government of Haiti, DHS intends to resume removal flights as soon as possible.  DHS and the Department of State are working with the Government of Haiti and other key partners to ensure that removals occur in as humane and minimally disruptive a manner as possible.  The policy change I announced on September 22 remains in effect. Haitians attempting to enter the United States without authorization will continue to be placed into immigration detention.  
  • With our interagency partners, DHS continues to aggressively target and dismantle the transnational criminal organizations that smuggle and exploit migrants. One recent example is “Operation ALL IN.”  This operation resulted in the apprehension of 100 individuals now facing federal prosecution at either the federal, state, or local level. Those arrested as part of Operation ALL IN include smugglers, as well as gang members and sex offenders.

Southwest Border Total Apprehensions (FY12-16)

Graph that displays total apprehensions for current and previous fiscal years

Southwest Border Unaccompanied Alien Children (0-17 yr old) Apprehensions

Graph that displays current and previous fiscal year UAC numbers

Comparisons below reflect Fiscal Year 2016 (October 1, 2015 - September 30, 2016) compared to the same time period for Fiscal Year 2015 and Fiscal Year 2014.


FY 2014

FY 2015

FY 2016

% Change
FY 14 to FY 15

% Change
FY 15 to FY 16

Big Bend Sector


Del Rio Sector


El Centro Sector


El Paso Sector


Laredo Sector


Rio Grande Sector


San Diego Sector


Tucson Sector


Yuma Sector


Southwest Border Total


Southwest Border Family Unit Apprehensions*

Graph that displays currrent and previous fiscal year Family Unit Apprehensions

Comparisons below reflect Fiscal Year 2016 (October 1, 2015 - September 30, 2016) compared to the same time period for Fiscal Year 2015 and Fiscal Year 2014.


FY 2014

FY 2015

FY 2016

% Change
FY 14 to FY 15

% Change
FY 15 to FY 16

Big Bend Sector


Del Rio Sector


El Centro Sector


El Paso Sector


Laredo Sector


Rio Grande Sector


San Diego Sector


Tucson Sector


Yuma Sector

Southwest Border Total68,44539,83877,674-42%95%

U.S. Border Patrol Southwest Border and Rio Grande Valley Sector Other Than Mexicans

Numbers below reflect Fiscal Year 2016 (October 1, 2015 - September 30, 2016)



Rio Grande Valley


Southwest Border


Unaccompanied Alien Children Encountered by Fiscal Year

Numbers below reflect Fiscal Years 2009-2015, FY 2016 (October 1, 2015 - September 30, 2016)

CountryFY  2009FY 2010FY 2011FY 2012FY 2013FY 2014FY 2015FY 2016
El Salvador1,2211,9101,3943,3145,99016,4049,38917,512

Family Unit Apprehensions Encountered by Fiscal Year*

Numbers below reflect Fiscal Year 2015, FY 2016 (October 1, 2015 - September 30, 2016)

CountryFY 2015FY 2016
El Salvador10,87227,114

*Note: (Family Unit represents the number of individuals (either a child under 18 years old, parent or legal guardian) apprehended with a family member by the U.S. Border Patrol.) 

United States Border Patrol Southwest Family Unit Subject and Unaccompanied Alien Children Apprehensions Fiscal Year 2016 - By Month


 FMUAUACTotal Apprehensions
SectorFY 2016 OCTFY 2016 OCTFY 2016 OCT
Big Bend Sector240185735
Del Rio Sector2832371,873
El Centro Sector89761,214
El Paso Sector2662391,641
Laredo Sector1522423,146
Rio Grande Sector4,1723,01215,036
San Diego Sector1081052,082
Tucson Sector3036185,903
Yuma Sector4132301,101
Southwest Border Total6,0264,94432,731


 FMUAUACTotal Apprehensions
SectorFY 2016 NOVFY 2016 NOVFY 2016 NOV
Big Bend Sector123133637
Del Rio Sector3142551,798
El Centro Sector110991,240
El Paso Sector4243301,680
Laredo Sector1602783,249
Rio Grande Sector4,3563,44415,298
San Diego Sector134982,024
Tucson Sector3766615,792
Yuma Sector4743121,126
Southwest Border Total6,4715,61032,844


 FMUAUACTotal Apprehensions
SectorFY 2016 DECFY 2016 DECFY 2016 DEC
Big Bend Sector166143689
Del Rio Sector5393272,185
El Centro Sector164981,253
El Paso Sector7514592,183
Laredo Sector1902842,994
Rio Grande Sector5,8094,08417,737
San Diego Sector2331482,200
Tucson Sector4537646,264
Yuma Sector6694681,508
Southwest Border Total8,9746,77537,013


 FMUAUACTotal Apprehensions
SectorFY 2016 JANFY 2016 JANFY 2016 JAN
Big Bend Sector5355388
Del Rio Sector1741531,531
El Centro Sector42581,061
El Paso Sector1041581,150
Laredo Sector1301912.454
Rio Grande Sector2,0221,7429,398
San Diego Sector2031422,525
Tucson Sector1664444,574
Yuma Sector251168681
Southwest Border Total3,1453,11123,762


 FMUAUACTotal Apprehensions
SectorFY 2016 FEBFY 2016 FEBFY 2016 FEB
Big Bend Sector4146458
Del Rio Sector1881931,780
El Centro Sector47781,342
El Paso Sector1522081,398
Laredo Sector1012192,899
Rio Grande Sector1,8901,6649,656
San Diego Sector1931132,507
Tucson Sector1044435,250
Yuma Sector332149789
Southwest Border Total3,0483,11326,079


 FMUAUACTotal Apprehensions
SectorFY 2016 MARFY 2016 MARFY 2016 MAR
Big Bend Sector3974617
Del Rio Sector1931882,022
El Centro Sector76891,777
El Paso Sector2242752,156
Laredo Sector1552523,203
Rio Grande Sector3,0542,46513,327
San Diego Sector1881343,111
Tucson Sector2165516,148
Yuma Sector303173974
Southwest Border Total4,4484,20133,335


 FMUAUACTotal Apprehensions
SectorFY 2016 APRFY 2016 APRFY 2016 APR
Big Bend Sector2990736
Del Rio Sector2402152224
El Centro Sector1181452,098
El Paso Sector3493022,411
Laredo Sector1512683,665
Rio Grande Sector3,8483,29716,709
San Diego Sector2451553,330
Tucson Sector1745005,794
Yuma Sector4612261,168
Southwest Border Total5,6155,19838,135


 FMUAUACTotal Apprehensions
SectorFY 2016 MAYFY 2016 MAYFY 2016 MAY
Big Bend Sector7666493
Del Rio Sector3972782,591
El Centro Sector1551252,004
El Paso Sector4372992,482
Laredo Sector1192983,407
Rio Grande Sector4,5663,54918,294
San Diego Sector1991463,121
Tucson Sector2575956,581
Yuma Sector5823131,393
Southwest Border Total6,7885,66940,366


 FMUAUACTotal Apprehensions
SectorFY 2016 JUNEFY 2016 JUNEFY 2016 JUNE
Big Bend Sector4343292
Del Rio Sector2261901,918
El Centro Sector1041011.722
El Paso Sector4733382,368
Laredo Sector1032042,909
Rio Grande Sector4,5712,97515,974
San Diego Sector2431172,526
Tucson Sector2345295,432
Yuma Sector6292922,368
Southwest Border Total6,6264,78934,463


 FMUAUACTotal Apprehensions
SectorFY 2016 JULYFY 2016 JULYFY 2016 JULY
Big Bend Sector4741344
Del Rio Sector3532441834
El Centro Sector1801471677
El Paso Sector6173762501
Laredo Sector1191942650
Rio Grande Sector5031321216518
San Diego Sector309932557
Tucson Sector2814084365
Yuma Sector6302881291
Southwest Border Total7567500333,737


 FMUAUACTotal Apprehensions
SectorFY 2016 AUGFY 2016 AUGFY 2016 AUG
Big Bend Sector9727326
Del Rio Sector2931661,445
El Centro Sector2101962,050
El Paso Sector8684392,708
Laredo Sector1352682,890
Rio Grande Sector6,3443,77919,155
San Diego Sector3721482,751
Tucson Sector3354064,303
Yuma Sector7053751,429
Southwest Border Total9,3595,80437,057


 FMUAUACTotal Apprehensions
SectorFY 2016 SepFY 2016 SepFY 2016 Sep
Big Bend Sector9256650
Del Rio Sector3492471,881
El Centro Sector2951852,032
El Paso Sector1,0044992,955
Laredo Sector1252643,129
Rio Grande Sector6,3423,54619,753
San Diego Sector4351613,183
Tucson Sector2434324,527
Yuma Sector7243091,391
Southwest Border Total9,6095,69939,501
Last modified: 
June 17, 2019