As Mexico's Economy Crumbles, Fewer Children, More Adults Cross Border

In data released Wednesday, U.S. Customs and Border Protection reported southwest land border encounters increased to 180,034 for the month of May, up from 178,854 in April.

While the 0.66% increase shows an overall consistent number from month to month, the makeup of the migrants has changed.

Encounters with unaccompanied children dropped to 14,158 from the previous month's total of 17,148. a 17% decrease. Meanwhile, the number of single adults encountered climbed from 111,478 in April to 121,082 in May, a 9% increase.

Evelyn Sanchez, teacher, Tijuana migrant camp
"The economic conditions in Mexico have reached a point of deterioration, and the public safety and security conditions in Mexico have also deteriorated to the point that more Mexicans are now choosing to take the trek north," Tony Payan, Director of the Baker Institute for Public Policy at Rice University, told Newsweek. In this photo, Evelyn Sanchez, a refugee from Honduras, who runs an open-air school for children in the El Chaparral migrant tent city in Tijuana, Mexico, holds her daughter in their tent in the camp on March 30, 2021. Alex Rouhandeh

Of these single adults, 53% were Mexican citizens. The number of Mexican single adults crossing has jumped each month since last December.

Tony Payan, Director of the Baker Institute for Public Policy at Rice University, told Newsweek this trend indicates a shift in migration patterns from those seeking political asylum to those seeking economic opportunity.

"The economic conditions in Mexico have reached a point of deterioration, and the public safety and security conditions in Mexico have also deteriorated to the point that more Mexicans are now choosing to take the trek north," he said. "This is a big issue, and I think that this is one of the reasons why Kamala Harris was in Mexico."