Chinese citizens have been intercepted by US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at the southern border 2,999 times so far in fiscal year 2023, a 719 percent increase from the previous year, according to CBP data released on February 10.
The sum also exceeds the 2,176 incidents that were reported for the entire fiscal year 2022 (October 1, 2021 to September 30, 2022).
The CBP encounter data includes illegal immigrants who have been detained in accordance with Title 8 immigration law, Title 8 “inadmissibles,” and noncitizens who are being processed for deportation under Title 42, according to the Department of Homeland Security.
Last year at this time, 366 Chinese nationals had been encountered by Border Patrol agents at the US-Mexico border.
However, on a national level, the year-over-year uptick in interactions is less pronounced; the current total for this fiscal year is 10,587 as opposed to 9,707 last year. Nevertheless, the pattern has started to worry some current and former officials since national totals have been rising month after month since October 2022.
At a press conference on February 9, former CBP Acting Commissioner Mark Morgan stated, “We literally apprehend immigrants from China. Do you think we are getting what their background is before we release them? Of course we’re not.”
The discovery of the pattern comes at a time when tensions between the United States and China are at an all-time high following the discovery and subsequent shooting down of a Chinese spy balloon earlier this month off the coast of South Carolina by the former.
Over the previous weekend, the US government shot down more unidentified flying objects that had been spotted over Alaska, Canada, and the Great Lakes region.
“The Chinese government is spying from above. Fentanyl from China is killing Americans in every community. More Chinese nationals are crossing illegally at our southern border. This is why I created the select committee on China—to confront these problems head-on,” said House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) in a tweet on February 9.
Despite the rise in the number of Chinese nationals entering the country illegally, CBP Acting Commissioner Troy Miller said on February 10 that interactions with illegal aliens of all nationalities between ports of entry at the southern border decreased by 42% in January.