On the U.S. side of the divide, the number of Mexicans taken into custody since 2000 has dropped 84 percent. But of 365,000 arrests made by the U.S. Border Patrol during fiscal 2012, nearly 100,000 were individuals classified as “Other than Mexican,” the highest percentage to date and almost twice as many as in 2011.

The vast majority were from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, Central America’s Northern Triangle, where economic failure and rampant violence exert a powerful push, even at a time when the pull of the U.S. labor market remains weak.

“There’s a feeling that Mexico has changed demographically and has turned the corner economically, and we’re never going to go back to what we had at the turn of this century,” said Eric Olson, a Central America expert at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, referring to the historic wave of Mexican migration that peaked in 2000, when Border Patrol agents made 1.7 million arrests.

“The real growth is projected to come from Central America,” Olson said.


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