Criminal JusticeFederalImmigration & BorderIssuesFeds Report Sharp Increase in Chinese Nationals Stopped by Border Guards

The U.S. government charged numerous Chinese individuals last year with violations related to espionage, harassment, and other crimes.
March 21, 2023
Amid concerns about the Chinese government, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) reported a dramatic increase in Chinese nationals apprehended at the southern border through February.

Border agents stopped 4,366 illegal immigrants from China along the southwestern U.S. border during the first five months of the current fiscal year, according to data published in part of CBP’s monthly operational update. 1,136 of those were encountered in Texas sectors. By this point last fiscal year, there had only been 421 encounters southwest encounters with Chinese nationals and 175 in Texas sectors.

NewsNation published a segment with one Chinese illegal alien who started his trip in Ecuador because the country does not require travel visas for Chinese citizens. The man told the publication he paid $11,000 to be smuggled into Texas.

The number of Chinese nationals stopped by border guards is still relatively small compared to the hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants encountered every month. However, the tenfold increase occurred amid prosecutions by the U.S. government against Chinese nationals for alleged espionage.

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced charges in October against agents of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) who are accused of using harassment and coercion in an attempt to “repatriate” individuals to China. There are also PRC intelligence officers facing allegations that they sought to obstruct a federal investigation into a Chinese company.

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In another indictment, the DOJ accused four Chinese individuals of trying to “recruit” Americans working at universities to act as informants for the PRC.

China has also been at the center of concerns about the proliferation of fentanyl. Gov. Greg Abbott pointed to the Chinese origin of the materials used to manufacture fentanyl when he declared drug trafficking organizations to be terrorist organizations in September of last year.

Relations between China and the U.S. are also tense due to the Chinese surveillance balloon that was shot down by the U.S. military near the coast of South Carolina after traveling across the continental United States.

Furthermore, there are those who express concern about an increase in reported hate crimes against Asian Americans. The DOJ said “Participating agencies” recorded 279 hate crimes against individuals of Asian descent in 2020, compared to 158 the year before. The department said hate crimes against black and white individuals also increased significantly.

At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, a male tried to murder an Asian American father and his six-year-old son at a grocery store in Midland. The 21-year-old assailant slashed both of them in the face, believing they were of Chinese descent and somehow at fault for the pandemic. The boy’s two-year-old sister was also with them.

The perpetrator, who received a 25-year prison sentence, also stabbed a Sam’s Club employee who tried to help the family being attacked.


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Hayden Sparks

Hayden Sparks is a senior reporter for The Texan and a lifelong resident of the Lone Star State. He has coached competitive speech and debate and has been involved in politics since a young age. One of Hayden's favorite quotes is by Sam Houston: "Texas has yet to learn submission to any oppression, come from what source it may."