May 31, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Where unaccompanied migrant children have gone, mapped

Hexbin map showing places in the U.S. that have received at least 100 unaccompanied child migrants from January 2015 from May 2023. The areas that have received the most unaccompanied migrant children are in east Texas (especially Houston, which has received at least 32,000), south Florida, California and the Northeast. Alaska, Hawai'i and states in the Great Plains have seen the fewest.
Data: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services via N.Y. Times; Note: Includes places that have received at least 100 unaccompanied migrant children; Map: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

Houston (about 32,000 kids), Los Angeles (about 12,700) and Dallas (about 8,500) received the largest shares of the 550,000-plus unaccompanied migrant children who arrived in U.S. cities between 2015 and 2023.

  • That's based on U.S. Department of Human Health and Services data on migrant children sponsors' ZIP codes obtained by the New York Times through a Freedom of Information Act request.

Why it matters: Unaccompanied migrant children are an especially vulnerable group as federal, state and city leaders spar over sheltering and supporting foreigners who have crossed the border without permission, with some states seeking to crack down hard on illegal immigration.

  • "Migrant children, who have been coming into the United States without their parents in record numbers, are ending up in some of the most punishing jobs in the country," per a recent Times investigation.
  • "This shadow workforce extends across industries in every state, flouting child labor laws that have been in place for nearly a century."

Between the lines: Americans are increasingly skeptical of outsiders, a recent Axios Harris Poll survey found, "partly based on misconceptions about immigrants committing crimes and seeking welfare benefits, both of which are largely untrue," as Axios' Russell Contreras has reported.

What we're watching: Congressional efforts to tighten boarder security have repeatedly failed as Republicans look to avoid handing Democrats and the Biden camp a political win ahead of November's elections — conditions that stand to hobble any further attempts at border reform between now and Election Day.

The bottom line: Addressing the border is one thing — but hundreds of thousands of unaccompanied kids are already in the U.S., and looking to local, state and federal officials for help and protection.

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