According to the draft memo’s estimates, agents and officers will apprehend more than 90,000 unaccompanied children on the border this year, rising to 142,000 in 2015. By contrast, there were fewer than 40,000 caught last year.
The numbers represent a stunning percentage of the illegal crossers — and only account for those caught. An unknown number get by the Border Patrol and make their way into the interior of the country.
Chiefly from Guatemala, Honduras or El Salvador, they are usually fleeing horrendous poverty or gang violence. They brave harsh conditions and, in the case of the girls, often face being raped, during their journey through Mexico and across the U.S. border.