Growing numbers of Chinese migrants are crossing the southern border

Growing numbers of Chinese migrants are crossing the southern border

The New York Times reports:

The surge of migrants entering the United States across the southern border increasingly includes people from a surprising place: China.

Despite the distances involved and the difficulties of the journey, more than 24,000 Chinese citizens have been apprehended crossing into the United States from Mexico in the past year. That is more than in the preceding 10 years combined, according to government data.

They typically fly into Ecuador, where they do not need a visa. Then, like hundreds of thousands of other migrants from Central and South America and more distant locations, they pay smugglers to guide their travel through the dangerous jungle between Colombia and Panama en route to the United States. Once there, they turn themselves in to border officials and many seek asylum.

And most succeed, in turn fueling further attempts. Chinese citizens are more successful than people from other countries with their asylum claims in immigration court. And those who are not end up staying anyway because China usually will not take them back.

In the polarizing debate over immigration, it is a little-discussed wrinkle in the U.S. system: American officials cannot force countries to take back their own citizens. For the most part, this is not an issue. But about a dozen countries are not terribly cooperative, and China is the worst offender.

Of the 1.3 million people in the United States with final orders to be deported, about 100,000 are Chinese, according to an administration official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the internal data.

The migrants are part of an exodus of citizens who have grown frustrated with harsh restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic and the direction of Xi Jinping’s authoritarian government. The trend has been coined the “run philosophy,” with citizens escaping to Japan, Europe and the United States.

“The largest reason for me is the political environment,” Mark Xu, 35, a Chinese elementary and middle school English teacher, said in February, as he waited to board a boat in Necoclí, Colombia, a beach town in the north. China was so stifling, he added, it had become “difficult to breathe.”

He was among about 100 Chinese migrants setting off that morning to start the journey through the treacherous Darién Gap, the only land route to the United States from South America. Mr. Xu said he learned about the trek from YouTube and through Google searches, including “how to get outside of China” and “how to escape.”

In the last two years, the area has been one of the most difficult portions of a desperate journey for large numbers of migrants seeking to go north. So far, 481,000 people have crossed through the jungle this year, compared with 248,000 last year, according to Panamanian officials. [Continue reading…]


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