Thirty-seven percent of unaccompanied migrant children traveling to the United States through the southern border this year have arrived in Mexico, according to new figures released on Wednesday. The increase in the number of children crossing into Mexico so far this year is twice that of 2017.
Between Oct. 1 and the end of March, more than 17,000 unaccompanied children have applied for asylum in Mexico, up from 11,296 in all of last year. As of last week, a total of 65,000 asylum requests had been filed in Mexico so far this year, a six-fold increase from 2017.
Less than a third of children have been sent back to the United States. Most are staying in the southern Mexican states of Oaxaca, Chiapas and Veracruz, according to Mexican immigration officials.
The announcement of the latest figures comes amid a standoff between the Trump administration and Congress over how to tackle the illegal immigration of immigrant children.
Trump has threatened to deport thousands of immigrant children if Congress does not agree to allocate funding for an administration “separation” center in Texas to hold migrant children.
On Tuesday, Senate Democrats accused the Trump administration of falsely alleging “legitimacy” in removing children in crisis, citing U.S. history and government policy as evidence to the contrary.