MEXICO CITY — A significant drop in the number of children apprehended at the United States-Mexico border in recent months sprang from Mexico’s record number of deportations of minors traveling without a guardian, according to an analysis released Tuesday.The analysis, by the Pew Research Center in Washington, noted that the flow of children not authorized to enter the United States had dropped precipitously, to 12,509, from October to February. The vast majority of the children were Central American.That was down from 21,402 in the same period a year ago, amid a wave of children fleeing violence in their home countries and drawn by false promises of amnesty in the United States. That surge eventually prompted President Obama to declare an emergency.
Children making their way from Honduras, where crime, violence and the rumors of amnesty were strongest, slowed to the point that Guatemala now accounts for the largest share of children apprehended in Mexico, according to the study.“The broad conclusion is that the increase in deportations in Mexico is having an effect on the flow of unaccompanied minors,” said Ana Gonzalez-Barrera, the Pew research associate who prepared the analysis using data from the Mexican and American governments.The period studied tends to be one of the slower ones for migrants trying to reach the United States. But Ms. Gonzalez-Barrera said that the significant drop in the same period year to year indicated that the flow had slowed and that the change had coincided with Mexico’s crackdown.Mexico’s get-tough approach has led to complaints from advocates for migrants. They say that the police have been heavy-handed and have detained many migrants unable or unwilling to pay bribes to pass through, and that the government has made it difficult for people to apply for asylum. At the same time, workers at migrant shelters have said that many people are simply finding new routes north, evading the authorities’ focus on traditional routes and jeopardizing their lives by crossing treacherous terrain. The Washington Office on Latin America, an advocacy group in Washington, said in its own report this month questioning the crackdown, “The humanitarian consequences could be severe.”