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According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) data released on February 10, CBP has encountered 2,999 Chinese nationals at the southern border in the fiscal year 2023 thus far, which is a 719 percent increase year over year.
The figure also surpasses the total amount of encounters for fiscal year 2022, which saw 2,176 Chinese nationals cross the border illegally.
According to DHS, CBP encounters data includes illegal immigrants who have been captured under Title 8 immigration law and are deemed "inadmissible" or are noncitizens and are processed for expulsion in compliance with Title 42.
By the same time last year, border patrol had encountered only 366 Chinese nationals at the southern border. Nationwide, the year-over-year numbers are less drastic, with the total for this fiscal year being 10,587 compared to 9,707 last year. The national totals, however, have been increasing month over month since October 2022, and the trend is becoming a concern for some current and former officials.
Former CBP Acting Commissioner, Mark Morgan, said during a February 9 press conference, "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," Morgan added.
The increasing numbers come as tensions are rising between the U.S. and China after NORAD detected and shot down a Chinese high-altitude surveillance balloon over South Carolina earlier this month.
House Speaker, Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), tweeted on February 9. "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," McCarthy concluded.
While the number of Chinese immigrants is growing at the southern border, CBP Acting Commissioner, Troy Miller, noted on February 10 that January saw a 42 percent decrease of encounters with illegal immigrants from all nationalities at points of entry across the southern border.
According to a statement from Miller, "The January monthly operational update clearly illustrates that new border enforcement measures are working, with the lowest level of Border Patrol encounters between Ports of Entry since February of 2021."
"Those trends have continued into February, with average encounters of Cubans, Haitians, Nicaraguans, and Venezuelans plummeting," Miller added.
Last month's encounters at the southern border also decreased from December's record high of 251,978 to 156,274.
According to CBP, the decrease is due to Biden's announcement last month about the expansion of a parole program in which illegal migrants from Venezuela, Cuba, Haiti, and Nicaragua will be allowed to work and live in the U.S. with the sponsorship of a U.S. resident after a background check.
The parole program has also received criticism for essentially granting amnesty to illegal immigrants.
Texas Attorney General, Ken Paxton, said last month, "This unlawful amnesty program, which will invite hundreds of thousands of aliens into the U.S. every year, will only make this immigration crisis drastically worse."
The legality of the program is being challenged by a lawsuit filed by Paxton and 19 other attorneys general.
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