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DACA and the Surge in Unaccompanied Minors at the US‐Mexico Border


International Migration

Published online on


Apprehensions of unaccompanied minors from Central American countries have been on the rise since 2008, but news reports particularly caught up with the increase after 2012. Some politicians posited that the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) contributed to the surge by creating the expectation that children would be allowed to stay in the country. Immigration advocates, however, believe that the two are not related. Using data on apprehensions of unaccompanied minors by border patrol sector, nationality and year, we find that DACA did not significantly impact those apprehensions. Rather, the 2008 Williams Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, along with violence in the originating countries and economic conditions in both the countries of origin and the United States, emerge as some of the key determinants of the recent surge in unaccompanied minors apprehended along the southwest US‐Mexico border.