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Chinese illegal border crossings spike by 7,000%. Only China knows why

OpinionChinese illegal border crossings spike by 7,000%. Only China knows why

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The problem with unaddressed crises is that they tend to metastasize. New crises develop within the chaos of the former, and the vicious cycle continues. President Joe Biden’s border crisis has created several other crises, but one issue stands out among the rest. The number of Chinese nationals illegally crossing our southern border is up by 7,000% since 2021, and that’s just for half the year. If we continue that pace, it would be 14,000% by the end of the fiscal year and no one but China seems to know why. 

In 2021, U.S. Border Patrol agents apprehended 342 Chinese nationals. In 2022, that number jumped to 1,987. Then, in 2022, the number rose to an astonishing 24,125 — which, of course, doesn’t include the “gotaways” who made it past the Border Patrol.  

Still, nothing compares to what’s ahead. So far, this year’s numbers have already eclipsed 2023 with 24,296 arrests — and we still have six more months to go in the fiscal year. Chinese migrants are among the fastest-growing groups illegally crossing the southern border. Even more concerning, the overwhelming majority of these Chinese migrants are military-age males.  

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One might think that given the unique threat the Chinese Communist Party poses to the United States, our Department of Homeland Security would intently interrogate some of these migrants to understand why they’re here. 

Chinese migrants speak to a border patrol officer before being processed

A Chinese migrant speaks to a border patrol officer before being processed after crossing the Rio Grande into the U.S.  (Brandon Bell)

Such a dramatic change in the number of migrants from our greatest adversary should warrant detailed reports and thorough investigations. But like any other spinoff crisis related to the border, there is little indication that the Biden administration will address it anytime soon. 

Of course, the media seems to provide cover fire for Biden’s lack of action. Many in the media seem concerned that the most important aspect of the crisis should be the use of politically correct vocabulary to describe the illegal migrants. 

For example, in a House floor speech, Speaker Mike Johnson made mention of “military-aged single men who are pouring into our country over the southern border … from adversarial nations.” One Washington Post columnist took issue with Johnson’s “framing”: 

“It takes very little unpacking to see the frightening veneer that Johnson is applying here. … It’s all framing: Johnson wants listeners to hear the phrase ‘military aged’ and assume that the immigrants are dangerous and intend to harm Americans.” 

Unsurprisingly, many in the media would rather spend time wordsmithing, than hold the Biden administration accountable for its failures.  

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At a minimum, U.S. intelligence agencies ought to be curious about why this phenomenon is occurring. We know that the migrants use mobile applications like WeChat and Douyin (the Chinese equivalent of TikTok) for instructional videos on how to cross the border.

Both applications are controlled and closely monitored by the Chinese Communist Party. Thus, the Chinese government is knowingly allowing tens of thousands of its young men to freely access these tutorials and flee the country. 

It doesn’t take a top-secret clearance to imagine why this should be alarming. China already has a long history of spying in in the United States recently. They launched a spy balloon that collected intelligence while roaming free in American airspace; the Chinese police centers discovered in New York City; China’s attempts to purchase farmland near strategic military bases; seven Chinese nationals caught hacking on China’s behalf for over 14 years; and the list goes on. Anyone who thinks that China’s sophisticated intelligence operations will not exploit the border crisis simply isn’t paying attention. 

One might think that given the unique threat the Chinese Communist Party poses to the United States, our Department of Homeland Security would intently interrogate some of these migrants to understand why they’re here. 

Still, many seem content with accepting the basic reasoning that Chinese migrants are here for better opportunity. According to one CNN story, Chinese nationals are flooding to the United States simply due to Beijing’s COVID-19 crackdowns and economic stagnation. While this theory might be the case for some, we shouldn’t assume that this is the case for all. 

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Just weeks ago, one Chinese national who entered our country illegally was caught breaking onto a Marine Corps base in California. In fact, there have been over 100 cases of Chinese nationals attempting to access American military and other installations in recent years, according to the Wall Street Journal. Are we to assume these individuals are seeking economic opportunity at strategic military bases? 

The American intelligence community has a duty to the American people to get answers. Intelligence officials can’t allow this crisis to be subsumed into the broader border crisis, and thus left unaddressed. Though illegal immigrants of many nationalities are represented at the border, only one country is the No. 1 threat to the United States.   

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