The number of unlawful migrants arriving at the southern border from China has significantly increased in the last year, according to the latest data from U.S. Border and Customs Enforcement.
Nearly as many unlawful migrants from China entered the United States since October 2023 as did the entire fiscal year previous.
According to NewsNation correspondent Ali Bradley, border patrol agents encountered almost 20,000 Chinese nationals at the border since the start of fiscal year 2024, which began on October 1, 2023. Some 24,000 Chinese citizens were encountered in the previous fiscal year.
It is believed that many Chinese migrants first travel to Ecuador, which does not have a visa requirement for Chinese nationals, reported CBS News. From there, the migrants follow a well-known route north. The vast majority surrender to border agents in the San Diego sector and claim asylum status. The route even has its own name in Chinese, “zouxian,” roughly translated to “walk the line.” The route has been documented and shared on TikTok.
Technology has made the journey easier in recent years. Unlawful migrants can use translation apps that enable them to communicate with locals and authorities despite the language difference, and many make the trek without the aid of human smugglers. Speaking to the Associated Press, Chinese nationals claimed the trip costs between $41,000 and $56,000. Around 33% of such migrants are granted asylum in the United States, according to Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Clearing House.
While Chinese migration to the United States is of course nothing new, the sharp increase in unlawful migrant encounters with Chinese nationals points to a shifting dynamic among those who are looking to get into the country amid the Biden administration’s purported “open border” policies.
“I speak with a lot of young people from China who want to learn about Chinese in America, Chinatown, and the accomplishments of early Chinese,” Eugene Moy of the Chinese Historical Society of Southern California said in an interview published by the University of Southern California Center on Public Diplomacy. “Young Chinese people come here and see that there is already a community for them, and that can be a real incentive to stay.”
While many Chinese migrants are purportedly seeking freedom, the possibility that Chinese Communist Party agents are infiltrating the United States remains a relatively serious issue, according to reporting by the Daily Mail UK.
“My Committee has been informed that some of these Chinese nationals have even been found to be affiliated with the People’s Liberation Army and the CCP — and those are just the ones we’ve been able to vet,” said House Homeland Security Committee chair Rep. Mark Green (R-TN).
The majority of unlawful migrants currently crossing the border are issued a summons to appear before an immigration judge and paroled into the United States.