Tatiana Sanchez, San Diego Union-Tribune, June 6, 2016
The number of unauthorized Chinese immigrants coming to San Diego has skyrocketed in recent years, the result of a lucrative smuggling industry, mass emigration from China and a diversifying pool of unauthorized immigrants settling in the United States.
Border Patrol agents in the San Diego sector apprehended an estimated 663 Chinese nationals between October and May, compared with 48 Chinese nationals last fiscal year, five in fiscal 2014 and eight in fiscal 2013, according to data provided by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
Before that, “we just weren’t getting (Chinese nationals),” said Wendi Lee, a spokeswoman for the Border Patrol.
Lee said criminal organizations involved in smuggling maximize their profits by transporting Chinese immigrants, often charging each several thousands of dollars to get them across the border.
“We’re talking anywhere from $50,000 to $70,000 per person,” said Lee. “The further you travel from, the more arrangements these criminal organizations have to make, the more expensive it will get.”
China has become one of the world’s leading sources of immigrants, according to a February report by the Migration Policy Institute.
“High-skilled and high-value emigration from China is rising fast, while low-skilled and unskilled emigration is stagnant–a divergence that has been widening since the late 2000s. The emigration rate of China’s highly educated population is now five times as high as the country’s overall rate. China’s wealthy elites and growing middle class are increasingly pursuing educational and work opportunities overseas for themselves and their families, facilitated by their rising incomes,” the report said.
The Chinese account for the fifth-largest population of unauthorized immigrants in the U.S., according to an October report by MPI. An estimated 285,000 unauthorized Chinese immigrants resided in the country in 2013.