Apprehensions of Chinese nationals crossing the southern border illegally have gone up by more than 700 percent since last year.

However, a retired ICE agent says he was told “this is nothing” compared to the number of such migrants making their way to the border right now.

According to figures reported by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Border Patrol agents at the nation’s southern border encountered 2,999 Chinese nationals between October of last year and January of this year, compared to 366 during the same period a year ago—an increase of 719 percent. There were only 2,176 such encounters during the entire 2022 fiscal year (October 2021 to September 2022).


Last month alone, there were 1,084 apprehensions of Chinese nationals, compared to 89 during January of the previous year. Those figures amount to a year-over-year increase of 1,118 percent.

However, retired ICE agent and border security expert Victor Avila informed Texas Scorecard that one of his sources in Mexico told him that thousands of Chinese nationals are on their way to the U.S.-Mexico border from South America.

“Wait till March,” Avila’s source told him.

Avila couldn’t say why these individuals are trying to get to the United States, but he believes they represent a serious security threat, as spies for the Chinese Communist Party could very well be among them.

Last week, Bill Melugin of Fox News highlighted a group of five Chinese nationals who turned themselves in to Border Patrol near Mission, Texas.

Earlier this month, three Chinese nationals who were stopped and questioned by Texas Department of Public Safety troopers in the same area said they each paid smugglers $35,000 to bring them across the Rio Grande in a raft. The cartels running human smuggling operations along the border are known to charge migrants from Central and South America around $8,500 each.

Avila said he has talked to Chinese migrants who are paying up to $60,000 to be smuggled into the country.

“I don’t know how they do it, but they come up with the money,” said Avila, adding that they “absolutely” could be sponsored by the CCP.

Avila acknowledged that such individuals may appear “unassuming and innocent,” but he insisted “this is not the time to be judging books by their cover.”

“This is a national security issue … because we know who China is,” Avila continued. “They’re our biggest adversary. … There wouldn’t be a reason why not to introduce nefarious people into these groups.”

Avila noted that Chinese nationals are not trying to evade capture but are seeking out and surrendering to Border Patrol, suggesting that “they’re not afraid of being checked.”

“They’re not going to come back with anything listed” since “China doesn’t participate in any kind of database that we have,” he explained.

Unlike the vast majority of migrants apprehended by Border Patrol, Chinese nationals might have legitimate asylum claims for fear of persecution from their country’s government, so “it’s very important to vet them,” said Avila. However, this process requires extensive time and resources, and because Avila says Biden administration officials just “want to move these people,” illegals are not being thoroughly vetted.

“They’re not able to do it because they don’t have the time; they don’t have the manpower because they are occupied by processing tens of thousands of others,” said Avila.

In the past, Border Patrol would transfer those apprehended for illegal entry to Immigration and Customs Enforcement for further questioning or deportation, but “that’s not happening now,” said Avila. “These people are going to be left.”

Texans for Strong Borders President Chris Russo said the border crisis “isn’t just illegal immigration from Mexico or even Central America any longer—illegal aliens from over 150 countries have been arrested since President Biden took office just two years ago.”

He continued, “Until the federal government enforces their laws or border states declare an invasion under Article I, Section 10 of the U.S. Constitution, the world will continue to flow through our southwestern border unabated. Our sovereignty, security, and very future as a nation are at stake.”

Avila shares this concern.

“The Chinese are coming at us in every direction,” he observed. “They’re coming at us with the fentanyl through the cartels. They’re coming at us with spy balloons. Now they’re going to come at us just with their people.”

Darrell Frost

Since graduating from Hillsdale College, Darrell has held key roles in winning political campaigns, managed a state legislator's Capitol office, and taught at a classical charter school. He enjoys participating in outdoor activities, playing the harmonica, and learning about the latest scientific developments.