The United States Border Patrol has caught a growing number of Chinese immigrants crossing the Mexican border into California illegally in the last eight months.
According to the Los Angeles Times, around 663 Chinese were apprehended by San Diego agents between October and May. U.S. Customs and Border Protection data revealed that figures from the previous fiscal years were relatively smaller with 48 individuals arrested in the last fiscal year and just eight during the year before.
Border Patrol turns non-Mexican arrests over to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Office of Enforcement and Removal Operations. After a review by an immigration court, they are either released or detained with significant considerations to possible flight risk and public safety.
Authorities have attributed the sudden spike in arrests to criminal organizations beginning to engage in smuggling immigrants. According to Border Patrol spokesperson Wendi Lee, these human smugglers charge a steep fee for providing illegal entry into the United States.
“We’re talking anywhere from $50,000 to $70,000 per person,” Lee said. “The farther you travel… the more arrangements these criminal organizations have to make, the more expensive it will get.”
While the main reason for Chinese immigration is the economic opportunity to bring their business in the U.S., Lee explained that a number of these illegal immigrants end up becoming victims of human trafficking.