Chinese migrants make multi-country trek to US southern border: 'I just want to make money'

Chinese migrants make multi-country trek to US southern border: 'I just want to make money'

FIRST ON FOX: Chinese nationals are streaming into the U.S. through the porous southern border in record numbers, traveling thousands of miles and through numerous countries to reach America's doorstep – and, in the process, exposing a migration crisis of global proportions.

There have been more than 22,000 encounters of Chinese nationals at the southern border since Oct. 1, a massive increase from the 2,176 encountered in federal fiscal year 2022 and the 450 encountered in fiscal year 2021.

A 36-year-old man from northern China, who had traveled to Mexico with his wife and twin sons on their way to the U.S., told Fox News that he picked up tips about the arduous journey from Chinese social media apps.


The man's account on Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok, shows his family in China on the way to the airport. He said he collected information from online sources to learn how to make it to the U.S., including information about routes, border navigation and ways to dispose of information to avoid having your origin traced. Additionally, many people "vlog" about their journey on Chinese social media apps to get in contact with other Chinese nationals already in the U.S. who can help find them jobs and a place to live.

Border Patrol officer talks with Chinese migrant
A Chinese migrant speaks to a border patrol officer before being processed after crossing the Rio Grande into the U.S.

He said his family left China in January and traveled first to Thailand (with a transfer in Bahrain) before going through Morocco (with a transfer in Spain), Ecuador, Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala and Mexico.


The man estimated the trip had already cost nearly $17,000, with the family using a mix of cash, bank cards and app-based payments. Unlike many migrants, who pay smugglers to guide them, the man designed all the routes himself, including some that wound through dangerous rainforests.

"The Mexican Immigration Bureau has been very strict these days," he said. "Spending money may not solve the problem. But fortunately, I have two children, and they actually take much better care of children and women."


Some migrants have been pictured expressing support for President Biden, and Republicans have accused the administration of encouraging the border crisis by reversing Trump-era policies, a claim the administration has rejected. But the migrant Fox spoke to expressed indifference about who is running the country he hopes to enter.

Chinese migrants have different motivations for going to the U.S., some seek more political or religious freedom, some want superior U.S. benefits such as health care, while others travel to America because they have lost faith in the Chinese economic recovery.

Migrants in California near the border
Migrants in line in Jacumba, Calif. Border authorities are contending with an influx of Chinese migrants in a key border sector.

"No matter whether it is Trump or Biden, we just wanted to come to the United States," the man said. "I am not worried about my legal identity problem, because as long as we arrive in the United States, there will always be a way to solve the identity problem. We want to go to the United States mainly for our children and to give them a better future."

There are myriad risks, not only due to the perils inherent while making the journey, but even some before ever leaving China. People can be detained and fined nearly $1,500 for obtaining fraudulent travel documents.


"My English is not very good, and I don't know anyone in the United States," he said. "Once I get to the United States, I know I have to start all over again. But I want to live a good life in the future, and I want my children to be educated well. I strive to take root in the United States as soon as possible."

Another migrant Fox spoke to was in his late 30s and had worked in the poultry business. Inspired by others who had moved to the U.S., he also flew to Ecuador via Thailand and then trekked to Mexico before being deported. He said he believes Mexican authorities are targeting the Chinese.

He also didn’t express concern or interest in the U.S. political situation.

"I don’t care, I just want to make money, and the United States is the country to go," he said.

The man also posted on Douyin, including about his experience being removed from Mexico. In the comment sections of his videos, many posters suggested he will be welcomed by the Chinese community in different locations.

China is one of more than 150 countries represented among migrants arriving at the southern border. Some officials and Republican lawmakers have raised concerns that single adults entering from the geopolitical foe could pose a national security threat.

"There have been numerous documented instances of Chinese nationals, at the direction of the CCP, engaging in espionage, stealing military and economic secrets," a group of Republican senators warned last year.

Fox News staff contributed to this report.

Original article source: Chinese migrants make multi-country trek to US southern border: 'I just want to make money'