Chinese migrants are purportedly using social media and exploiting a gap in the US-Mexico border fence to enter the U.S. illegally, a “60 Minutes” report has found.
Social media help: A “60 Minutes” report this week highlighted how Chinese migrants, including middle-class individuals, enter the U.S. through a gap in the border fence near San Diego. The migrants interviewed said they utilized the platform Douyin — the Chinese version of TikTok — to get directions, establish contacts with alleged smugglers and find instructions on how to reach the gap in the border wall.
Reaching the border: Some migrants revealed they undertook a perilous journey through Central America, while others took flights directly to Mexico, often via Ecuador to take advantage of its relaxed visa requirements. According to some migrants, they connected with smugglers in Tijuana for a $400 fee to drive them to the border gap.
Surge in Chinese migrants: Data from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has recently revealed that there have already been approximately 15,700 Chinese migrant encounters at the U.S.-Mexico border in just the first few months of fiscal year 2024. The number, which surpassed the entire total of 14,600 for the previous fiscal year, represents a 106% increase.
According to the U.S. Border Patrol, they lack the authority to stop migrants at the gap and would require Congressional funding to close it.
Reasons for migration: Many of the migrants cite China’s economic difficulties, political climate and difficulty obtaining visas as reasons for leaving. After crossing the border, the migrants surrender to Border Patrol, are processed and often released within 72 hours. Many of them seek asylum soon after. According to the Department of Justice, 55% of Chinese migrants were granted asylum last year.
State of limbo: The CBP recently reported that 37,000 Chinese citizens were apprehended after crossing the border last year. However, despite being ordered to leave by U.S. immigration courts, many remain due to China’s refusal to repatriate its citizens.
Immigration lawyer Tammy Lynn, who has worked with Chinese clients for their asylum cases, told “60 Minutes” that difficulties obtaining passports have left many stuck in “limbo” in the U.S.