(CNSNews.com) -- About 7 of every 10 individuals under 18 years of age, who were apprehended by U.S Border Patrol last year -- 16,067 individuals -- were unaccompanied, according to the latest federal statistics.
The data, which cover apprehensions by the U.S. Border Patrol during fiscal year 2011 (Oct. 1, 2010 - Sept. 30, 2011), were published by the agency in April.
Border Patrol is part of the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency, a component of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
The data show that the total 23,089 illegal aliens under age 18 were arrested by border agents as they tried to cross U.S. international boundaries, including the northern, southwest, and coastal borders, 16,067 (about 70 percent) of them were unaccompanied.
Most of the these apprehensions occurred along the U.S.-Mexico border, which is also where most illegal cross-border activity takes place.
There were 22,851 total apprehensions of illegal immigrants under age 18 along the southwest border alone. For those, 15,949 (70 percent) were arrested without a parent or family member around.
Those apprehension along the southwest border, including both the accompanied and unaccompanied minors, account for 99 percent of the total 23,089 individuals arrested at all the bondaries: southern, northern, and coastal borders.
Most of the unaccompanied juvenile apprehensions along the southwest border occurred in the patrol sectors located in Tucson, Ariz. (5,878) and Rio Grande Valley, Texas (5,236).
Those sectors combined make up about half (11,114) of the apprehensions of unaccompanied minors along the U.S.-Mexico border and across the nation.
There were 85 total juveniles arrested along the U.S. coastal borders, including 42 unaccompanied minors. Along the U.S.-Canada border, there were 153 juveniles apprehended, among which 76 were unaccompanied.
Although the number of all illegal border crossings, including both juveniles and adults, declined from fiscal year 2010 to 2011, the number of unaccompanied minors has increased so far this fiscal year.
In fiscal year 2012 thru April (seven months), 13,416 unaccompanied minors have been apprehended by the U.S. Border Patrol. The agency has not yet broken those figures down by northern, southern, and coastal sector arrests.
However, historically most of those types of apprehensions have occurred along the U.S.-Mexico border. The unaccompanied minor apprehensions across all U.S. borders during the first seven months of fiscal 2012 account, so far, for 84 percent of those that occurred during the entire prior fiscal year.
On a monthly average, 1,917 unaccompanied minors have been apprehended by Border Patrol so far in 2012 compared to 1,338 the previous year.
The top four countries of origin for the unaccompanied illegal aliens have been Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala, which tend to be among the top nationalities of all illegal alien arrests along the U.S. borders.
So far this year, 8,369 unaccompanied minors from Mexico, 1,977 from Guatemala, 1,575 from El Salvador, and 1,292 from Honduras have been apprehended. They account for 98 percent of all unaccompanied minor apprehensions during the same period.
Overall, the number of unaccompanied minor arrests as a portion of all apprehensions is small.
For the total 340,252 illegal alien apprehensions made by the Border Patrol in fiscal 2011, 16,056 (about 5 percent) were minors arrested without a parent or family member around. Most of those apprehensions took place along the U.S.-Mexico border.
After they are detained by DHS, unaccompanied alien children (UAC) are transferred to the care of the Unaccompanied Children Services division at the U.S. Health and Human Services Department (HHS).
According to the division’s Web site, HHS provides the minors “with a safe and appropriate environment as well as client-focused highest quality of care to maximize the UAC’s opportunities for success both while in care, and upon discharge from the program to sponsors in the U.S. or return to home country, to assist them in becoming integrated members of our global society.”
The HHS division “incorporates child welfare principles when making placement, clinical, case management, and release decisions that are in the best interest of the child,” stated the site.