By Tatiana Sanchez / San Diego Union-Tribune
The number of Chinese immigrants illegally crossing the Mexican border into California has skyrocketed in recent years, the result of a lucrative smuggling industry, mass migration from China and a diversifying pool of migrants settling in the United States.
Between October and May, the first eight months of the fiscal year, Border Patrol agents in the San Diego sector apprehended an estimated 663 Chinese nationals, compared with 48 in the entire previous fiscal year and eight in the year before that, according to data provided by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
Before then, “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 premiums to get them across the border.
“We’re talking anywhere from $50,000 to $70,000 per person,” Lee said. “The farther you travel … 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.