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For First Time On Record, More Non-Mexicans Apprehended At U.S. Border Than Mexicans

The Pew Research Center found that 257,000 non-Mexicans were taken into custody by Border Patrol agents in 2014, compared with 229,000 Mexicans during the same period last year.

Posted on December 30, 2014, at 2:55 p.m. ET

Daniel Becerril / Reuters

A couple from El Salvador walk with their 3-year-old son on the train tracks in Mexico.

An analysis by the Pew Research Center has found that for the first time on record, more non-Mexicans than Mexicans were apprehended along U.S. borders in 2014.

Roughly 229,000 Mexicans were taken into custody by Border Patrol agents in fiscal year 2014, compared with about 257,000 non-Mexicans during the same period last year, according to the organization, which analyzed more than 60 years of Border Patrol data.

Both groups accounted for more than 486,000 apprehensions at U.S. borders, a 16% increase from 2013. Researchers said the figures show that Mexicans are crossing the border into the United States significantly less often than they did before the Great Recession.

The figures are vastly different from those in 2007, when about 809,000 Mexicans were taken into custody at the U.S. border, compared with just 68,000 non-Mexicans, according to the findings released Tuesday.

The number of Mexican immigrants apprehended at the border peaked at 1.6 million in 2000, the Pew Research analysis found.

The last time Mexican apprehensions were as low as they were in 2014 was in 1970, when about 219,000 immigrants were taken into custody. During that same year, the number of non-Mexicans stopped at the border was about 12,000.

The analysis attributed the demographic shift to the recent surge in unaccompanied Central American child migrants attempting to cross into the U.S. In fiscal year 2014, nearly 52,000 unaccompanied children from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras were captured at the U.S.–Mexico border, more than double from the previous year, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection data.

Meanwhile, the number of unaccompanied Mexican children caught by Border Patrol agents dropped slightly over the same time period, from 17,000 to 16,000.

Even though their numbers are declining, Mexicans still make up about 52% of the immigrants who are in the U.S. without proper documentation.

The Pew Research Center said that as their numbers have fallen, the number of undocumented immigrants from other parts of the world have either held steady or are on the rise.

For example, from 2009 to 2012, the number of Central American immigrants in the U.S. without proper documentation grew by 100,000. Researchers said there was a similar increase in immigrants from Asia.