U.S. authorities handed over 14,237 unaccompanied children and teenagers of different nationalities found traveling alone on the border to Mexico last year, the National Migration Institute, or INM, said.

Of the minors handed over to authorities in Mexico, 11,520, or nearly 81 percent, were Mexican and the other 2,717 were of various unspecified nationalities.

The children were all cared for the INM's office of children's services.

Since 2007, Mexico has had a program in effect to protect undocumented minors who are handed over by the United States, the INM said.

Countries such as Argentina, Panama, Spain, Colombia and Senegal have expressed an interest in the welfare of these children, the INM said in a statement.

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Mexico has worked since 2009 with 384 officials from Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and the Dominican Republic "to replicate this model and train their officials to provide the specialized care required by the migrant child population," the INM said.

The program deals with immediate problems and "the specific needs" of young migrants, "detecting those minors who are victims of possible abuse, exploitation or people trafficking," the INM said.

"The program for aiding migrants who are minors has yielded such good results that it has been emulated by several countries in Latin America," the INM said.

The INM currently has 362 children's services offices.

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