Politics & Policy

More Illegal Immigrants from China Crossing Border

Border union officials see more Chinese nationals in the Rio Grande Valley.

The influx of Central American illegal immigrants appears to have attracted the attention of Chinese nationals seeking to gain access to the United States. Border Patrol union officials in the Rio Grande Valley Sector tell National Review Online that they’ve noticed a recent uptick in the number of Chinese border crossers. While the Obama administration has sought to attribute the spike in Central Americans coming to the U.S. to poverty and regional violence, no such explanation exists for the arrival of Chinese immigrants.  

“[Traffic of Chinese-born persons] seemed to have dried up for awhile, but then maybe within the last month or so it seemed to have increased,” says Albert Spratte, the sergeant-at-arms of the National Border Patrol Council Local 3307 in the Rio Grande Valley. “You see them in threes or fours, and it’s always, ‘Oh, the one-child policy, the one-child policy, don’t want to go back.’ They’re always trying to claim some credible fear.”

China’s one-child policy was established by Deng Xiaoping in 1979 as a temporary measure, but it still exists a quarter-century later. The policy uses financial incentives, sanctions, and forced abortions and sterilizations to enforce the law, according to Encyclopedia Britannica.

Spratte says a few Chinese nationals crossed the river into Texas via jet skis near Anzalduas Park in Mission, Texas, last week. Chris Cabrera, vice president of the National Border Patrol Council Local 3307 in the Rio Grande Valley, says about five or six Chinese were processed at the McAllen Border Patrol Station in just one day last week. “We’re seeing more and more exotic OTMs [Other Than Mexicans] that are coming in,” Cabrera says. “They’ve gotten word of this and they’re taking advantage of it as well.”

Farther north, in Brooks County, Border Patrol officials have placed “rescue beacons” that provide instructions for distressed trespassers in three languages: English, Spanish, and Chinese. Linda Vickers, the chief of staff of the Texas Border Volunteers — a group of people who assist law enforcement with securing the border — says she knows of approximately eight rescue beacons in Brooks County. Vickers says the beacons hold about five gallons of water for the illegal immigrants to drink while they wait for officials to respond to the request for help.

She says one beacon is located near the highway. “It’s kind of PR,” Vickers says. “It’s in a position where it can be easily accessed and still function as a rescue beacon.” Vickers says Border Patrol officials have shown the Mexican consulate the beacon near the road on a tour of the area.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials deported 1,678 people to China during fiscal years 2012 and 2013 combined, according to information provided by ICE spokesman Carl Rusnok. ICE shipped 20 fewer people to China in FY 2013 than it did the previous fiscal year, despite growing Chinese immigration numbers.

Since 1960, the number of Chinese immigrants arriving in America has increased each decade, according to a Migration Policy Institute report. “The Chinese born represent the second-largest immigrant group in the country (after the foreign born from Mexico) in 2010,” the report says. Chinese illegal immigrants attracted to the U.S. alongside their Central American counterparts will likely contribute to the continued growth of the Chinese immigrant population. Spratte says he’s heard rumors that Chinese juveniles might be headed his way next, but he says he has encountered only Chinese adults thus far.      

— Ryan Lovelace is a William F. Buckley Fellow at the National Review Institute.

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