How Surging Numbers of Chinese Migrants Are Crossing the Southern Border With the Help of TikTok

Story by Jo Shaw

The headlines have been full of news citing numerous figures showing the startling increase in migrant crossings over the southern border to Mexico. New reports show that ten times more Chinese nationals are crossing the border than last year. Economic factors and the idea of “the land of the free” are driving more Chinese migrants across the border, with help from social media to show them the way.

Widely reported figures state that over 37,000 Chinese migrants were encountered attempting to cross the US southern border with Mexico in 2023. The numbers have increased significantly since 2021. The year 2023 marked ten times more Chinese migrant encounters than figures from 2022.

It has also been widely reported that Chinese nationals crossing the border are the fastest-growing group in terms of citizenship. However, compared to citizens from countries such as Venezuela, they still account for only a tiny percentage.

The figures show that in 2021, only 689 Chinese national encounters were reported. In contrast, 2022 saw an uptick, with 3,813 Chinese nationals attempting the crossing, and in 2023, a record increase of 37,439 encounters were reported.

Nonetheless, in 2023, a total of 2.5 million migrants had been reported by the CBP (Customs and Border Protection). Chinese nationals only accounted for around 1.5% of the total migrants.

Nikkei Asia has also reporte

d on the increase of Chinese migrants attempting to cross over the US border. They interviewed migrants and stated that there was such an increase due to a “desperate economic situation” in China.

Nikkei Asia interviewed a 10-year-old boy, who explained, “We spent two and a half days walking through a rainforest – two and a half days.”

After their long journey, the mother of the 10-year-old boy had stated to reporters from Nikkei Asia that they had made it to “America, the land of the free.”

Nikkei Asia also reported that a lot of the Chinese migrants had explained they were crossing into the US due to “China’s increasingly repressive political climate.” A think tank had also informed the news outlet that “economic pressures” were the biggest factor for the significant increase, stating that China’s harsh economic conditions were “likely to continue for the next several years.”

CBS News also reported interviews they had with Chinese nationals crossing the border. In an article by Sharyn Alfonsi, she highlighted conversations she had with migrants at the border. The article explained how a 37-year-old woman had crossed the border after leaving behind her two young children after the pandemic ruined her business in China.

The article then drew attention to the route the Chinese migrants were taking, explaining that migrants were provided detailed instructions on how to cross the border through TikTok posts. The posts that Alfonsi found reportedly included “step-by-step instructions for hiring smugglers and detailed directions” to the place migrants were crossing, where the reporter for CBS News had visited.

Alfonsi wrote, “We were struck by just how orderly and routine it all seemed. The migrants walked about a half mile down a dirt road and waited in line for US Border Patrol to arrive so they could surrender.”

The article noted the property owner, Jerry Shuster’s response. “They’re all doing this.” He had told Alfonsi. “They come prepared with the computers just like they got off on a Norwegian cruise ship yesterday,” he explained.

The New York Times has recently reported that there is a failure in the system. In a recent article, they estimated that 100,000 of the 1.3 million migrants that had been issued “final orders” to leave the US are of Chinese Citizenship.

“But even those ordered to return home often stay in the US because China typically won’t take them back, leaving many migrants stuck in limbo.” The New York Times explained that there was “a little-discussed wrinkle in the US system.”

The Federation of Immigration Reform has recently reported figures from January 2024. Their report cited figures from San Diego County Supervisor Jim Desmond. Desmond stated that they had encountered over 4,000 Chinese migrants from January 8, 2024.

The Federation of Immigration Reform also claimed that Chinese migrants were allegedly paying smugglers around $60,000 per person to cross the border to the US.

According to CBP, from May 12, 2023, to January 31, 2024, the “DHS has removed or returned over 520,000 individuals, the vast majority of whom crossed the southwest border, including more than 87,000 individual family members.”

Read More From: For A Free America

In January 2024, the Border Patrol recorded 124,220 encounters along the southwest border. These figures reportedly represented a 50% decline in the number of encounters reported in December 2023.

In addition, the CBP has recorded that the southwest encounters concerning Chinese nationals in Dec. 2023 were 5980, dropping to 3716 in January 2024. The Chinese migrants comprise a significantly small portion of the reported 124,220 encounters.  

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