Chinese nationals are arriving at America’s southern border in exploding numbers. In January 2022, U.S. Customs and Border Protection says, it encountered 89 illegal aliens from the People’s Republic of China on the southern border. That number grew over tenfold last month, to 1,084.
A similar increase has occurred in encounters with illegal immigrants from Russia, with CBP reporting 1,030 in January 2022, but over four times that—4,509—last month.
It is a “source of concern” when an influx of migrants attempts to enter America illegally from a country “that we know isn’t on our side,” Andrew Arthur, a resident fellow in law and policy for the Center for Immigration Studies, told The Daily Signal.
The likely reason for the border surge of Chinese and Russian migrants, Arthur said, is that “word’s gone out around the world that the southwest border is open.”
Since fiscal year 2023 began Oct. 1, Customs and Border Protection says it has has encountered 2,999 Chinese nationals on the southern border, outpacing the combined total of 2,626 for fiscal years 2021 and 2022.
Arthur, who previously worked as an immigration judge, said he saw Chinese nationals in his courtroom who commonly paid “upward of $60,000 to $70,000 to have the opportunity to make it to the southwest border.”
One of the reasons for the increase of Chinese nationals at the border is that “the human smugglers have cracked the China market,” said Michael Cunningham, a research fellow in The Heritage Foundation’s Asian Studies Center. (The Daily Signal is Heritage’s multimedia news organization.)
“The China market is more lucrative,” Cunningham said, adding that smugglers charge Chinese nationals more to be brought across the border, simply because they can.
Cunningham told The Daily Signal that he doesn’t think the increase in illegal aliens from China indicates the communist regime is trying to send large numbers of spies into the U.S. Instead, he points to China’s political climate and extreme COVID-19 policies that likely spur Chinese nationals to flee.
“The border crisis [has] been ongoing for years under [President Joe] Biden,” Cunningham said. “The Chinese government is never this far behind the curve. So, I can’t say they haven’t been exploiting it, but if they have, then they have been all along.”
But Cunningham said that fears over China’s sending spies across America’s southern border are “a reasonable concern to have and … it’s just one of the reasons why it’s so important that the Biden administration start taking the border seriously, and that our country takes its sovereignty seriously.”
Concern over the threat China poses to America has been heightened because of the Chinese spy balloon that traveled across the country before a U.S. fighter jet was ordered to shoot it down over the Atlantic Ocean on Feb. 4.
“Everybody’s focused on, you know, Chinese spy balloons going over the United States,” the Center for Immigration Studies’ Arthur said, adding that it is “the job of the federal government to protect all of our borders, be they land borders, sea borders, or from above.”
While the Biden administration is focused on China’s intrusion into American airspace, it’s a good time to “reconsider the vulnerabilities that are posed to the United States from what is, respectfully but objectively, an open border,” Arthur said.
Over the past two years, “the message getting out to would-be illegal immigrants has been that the U.S. border is open, except for some minor formalities,” Simon Hankinson, a senior research fellow in The Heritage Foundation’s Border Security and Immigration Center, told The Daily Signal.
In that same time, Hankinson said, “Border authorities have arrested—and then often let go—illegal border crossers from 150 countries, China and Russia included,” Hankinson said.
“Today, it is easier to simply walk across the border and surrender to the welcome of U.S. immigration authorities, secure in the knowledge that they will be released for the foreseeable future,” he said.
In fiscal year 2022, which ended Sept. 30, Customs and Border Protection reported a record 2.3 million land encounters with migrants at the southern border. With over 700,000 total encounters between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31 (the first three months of fiscal year 2023), CBP encounters with illegal aliens are on track to overtake the previous year’s numbers.
Customs and Border Protection also reports that it seized just over 14,000 pounds of fentanyl in fiscal year 2022 and more than 7,000 pounds between October and the end of December.
Article cross-posted from Daily Signal.