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Border Authorities Detail Smuggling Routes, Warn of Greater Surge in Chinese Illegally Crossing into U.S.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) sent an internal alert to personnel about an expected surge in Chinese migrants crossing the southern border illegally, according to a document exclusively obtained by the Daily Caller News Foundation.
Jennie Taer//Daily Caller News Foundation
Jennie Taer//Daily Caller News Foundation

By: Jennie Taer, Daily Caller News Foundation

Border authorities in the U.S. are expecting a further increase in the number of Chinese migrants crossing illegally at the southern border, and have identified key ways they are entering the country, according to an internal U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) document exclusively obtained by the Daily Caller News Foundation.

The document, which was circulated via an internal email to CBP personnel, warns of more Chinese nationals entering the U.S. via the southern border due to a broader message from smugglers about routes into the country. The document details key smuggling routes, and notes that the Chinese nationals are entering in higher numbers due to religious persecution against the Christian faith.

“Chinese national apprehensions will continue to rise across the SWB [Southwest border]. primarily in Yuma and the Rio Grande Sector, as more Chinese nationals successfully reach the United States to request asylum and information about routes becomes more accessible,” the document stated.

Border Patrol agents have been increasingly encountering Chinese migrants who have crossed illegally into the U.S. via the southern border. Between October 2022 and February 2023, Border Patrol agents encountered more than 4,200 illegal migrants from China, compared to roughly 1,900 in all of fiscal year 2022, according to CBP data.

“CBP reporting suggests that given the apprehensions in RGV [Rio Grande Valley], it is unlikely that a new smuggling route were [sic] created, but that the recent uptick is indicative of an overall surge across the entire SWB [Southwest border],” the document added.

Chinese nationals often pay between $15,000 and $30,000 to get to the U.S. border, a Border Patrol agent stationed along the southern border, who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly on the leaked document, told the Daily Caller News Foundation.

“[The] majority of them have thousands and thousands of U.S. dollars,” the agent said. “FBI has been called down several times now.

“The cartels know and are charging them out the ss what their normal rates are,” the agent added.

The document outlined one smuggling route in which migrants from China were brought to Istanbul, Turkey, where they obtained Mexican visas. The group flew to Mexico City posing as fake couples and then split off.

Three men in the group flew to Reynosa, Mexico, while three women flew to Tijuana, Mexico.

The ending of certain COVID-19 policies in China has led to more Chinese migrants fleeing the country to seek asylum in the U.S., according to the document.

“The loosened COVID protocols in China have allowed Chinese nationals to flee repressive rule in China and begin their journey to the United States seeking better living conditions,” the document read. “According to CBP, custodial interviews indicate that Chinese citizens are requesting asylum claiming religious persecution by the Chinese Government due to their Christian faith. Additionally, Chinese nationals reportedly make their own smuggling arrangements for most of their journey, only utilizing elements of smuggling networks to cross the border.”

Social media posts in Mandarin have provided Chinese migrants with guides on how to get to the U.S. mainly by flying to Ecuador visa-free, according to the document.

“Access to information from social media on routes to the United States in Mandarin have contributed to much of the surge of Chinese nationals requesting asylum. Currently, the most common route Chinese nationals are taking to the United States is to fly into Ecuador without a visa and proceed through Panama’s Darien Gap, heading north until they reach the border,” the document added.

In the first five months of fiscal year 2023, Border Patrol agents in Arizona’s Yuma sector apprehended 716 illegal migrants from China, over half of which were arrested in February.

CBP declined to comment.

“It is the policy of CBP to neither confirm nor speak to potentially improperly disclosed internal documents,” a CBP spokesperson told the DCNF.

Lorenzo Prieto contributed to this report.

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