There has been a huge increase in the number of Chinese immigrants entering America via the Mexico border, including the 31,000 Chinese nationals who were apprehended at the border in the first 11 months of 2023.
The Rise of Chinese Migration to the US-Mexico Border
In recent years, an unprecedented surge in Chinese nationals making their way to the United States-Mexico border has captured global attention. These individuals, like many others from different parts of the world, embark on a perilous journey fueled by a desperate desire to escape economic hardships and government restrictions in their home country.
Government data, reflecting the first 11 months of 2023, revealed a staggering trend: over 31,000 Chinese citizens were apprehended while attempting to cross into the US illegally from Mexico. This marks a significant departure from the past decade’s average of approximately 1,500 illegal border crossings per year by Chinese nationals.
The sheer magnitude of this increase has revealed to the world the urgency felt by many Chinese citizens to seek a new life despite the risks of an illegal border crossing.
The Impact of Economic Hardships in China
The journey to the US-Mexico border is fueled by a complex interplay of factors, primarily economic struggles exacerbated by three years of COVID-19 lockdowns. Many individuals in China found themselves out of work, and the hope that economic conditions would rebound following the lifting of restrictions a year ago has faded.
As Zheng Shiqing, a 28-year-old factory worker, pointed out, “For ordinary people, survival is really difficult. It is really hard to live. Don’t even think about making money because you are being exploited by those (upper class) people.”
From Ecuador to the US
The journey for Chinese migrants typically begins in Quito, Ecuador, a city that has become a gateway for those seeking to escape China.
In 2022, Ecuador documented around 13,000 Chinese nationals entering, and by the first 11 months of 2023, this number rose to over 45,000.
Businesses and social media accounts have sprung up to cater to the specific needs of Chinese migrants, offering services ranging from airport pickups to stays at Chinese-run hostels and assistance in organizing the overland journey north. However, these services often come at a hefty fee.
The High Stakes of the Journey
Embarking on the overland journey from Quito to the US-Mexico border comes with a high price tag and considerable personal risk. Many Chinese migrants spend at least $5,000, a significant amount for the average factory worker in China.
This financial investment covers flights, stays in Chinese-run hostels, and transportation through treacherous terrains. Some migrants opt for curated packages, costing up to $20,000, which promise a safer and more guided journey.
As Zheng Shiqing, who experienced setbacks on his journey, explains, “There is no way out … unless your parents are officials or businesspeople. But if you are from the lower class, even if you get married and have children, you will still follow the old path … it’s painful just thinking about it.”
Government Response and International Cooperation
As the number of Chinese nationals attempting the southern border crossing rises, the Chinese government has condemned these activities.
The Foreign Ministry asserted its opposition to illegal immigration and expressed a willingness to engage in international cooperation on the matter.
Meanwhile, Congress is expected to update immigration rules in response to the surge in border crossings. The political tension between the US and China strains the issue as Beijing seeks to distance itself from the actions of its citizens.
The American Dream and the Uncertain Future
For those who successfully reach the US, the journey is far from over. While some find opportunities to build a new life, the asylum process remains uncertain and lengthy.
Wang Qun, who recently made the journey, passed a licensing test, fulfilling his goal of becoming a truck driver in America. Wang believes that his contribution to the US, through hard work and tax payments, does not burden the government. “I believe (My wife and I) are valuable to America. Because we are constantly working hard, paying taxes, I think our coming does not burden the US government,” he said.
The post More Than 30,000 Chinese Immigrants Arrived at U.S. Border Last Year first appeared on Edge Media.
Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / David Peinado Romero.