Chinese nationals are crossing America’s southern border at abnormally high rates, according to Customs and Border Protection data.  

Already in fiscal year 2024, more Chinese nationals have crossed America’s southern border than the three previous fiscal years combined. Under the Biden administration, “there is no serious vetting” of illegal aliens from China, Rep. Dan Bishop, R-N.C., said during a House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Oversight, Investigations, and Accountability hearing held Thursday afternoon.  

A five-question “limited interview,” as Bishop calls it, “combined with a lack of reliable information from China to verify biographical claims and limited translation services, severely constrain CBP’s ability to conduct rigorous vetting for criminal and national security concerns.” 

So far in fiscal year 2024—which began Oct. 1—27,700 Chinese nationals have crossed the southern border. In fiscal year 2021, CBP only encountered 450 Chinese nationals at the southern border, but that number rose to 2,176 the following year, and then soared to 24,314 in fiscal year 2023.  

Encounters of Chinese nationals have also risen sharply at the northern border, increasing from 897 in fiscal year 2021 to over 7,000 in the first seven months of fiscal year 2024.  

During Thursday’s hearing, titled “Security Risk: The Unprecedented Surge in Chinese Illegal Immigration,” expert witnesses offered members of Congress explanations as to why so many Chinese nationals are crossing the border now.   

“Illegal immigration ebbs and flows corresponding to a risk-reward calculation, and the reason that Chinese are coming in great numbers today is simply because they can,” Simon Hankinson, a senior research fellow in the Border Security and Immigration Center at The Heritage Foundation, told the subcommittee. “The worldwide awareness of our open border, spread by social media, shows them how,” Hankinson added. (Heritage founded The Daily Signal in 2014.) 

Craig Singleton, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, acknowledged that there is not one simple answer for why so many Chinese nationals are choosing to enter the U.S. illegally.

“Economic instability and political repression within China have propelled many Chinese to seek better lives abroad,” Singleton said. “Yet this migration is also facilitated by sophisticated Chinese smuggling networks, readily accessible through Chinese social media platforms like WeChat and Douyin, China’s version of TikTok.”  

The rise in illegal border crossings “provides cover for Chinese intelligence operatives, or those acting on their behalf, to potentially infiltrate our borders,” Singleton said.  

“These operatives benefit from newfound operational flexibility, and so much as instability at the border allows them to evade traditional screening procedures and other American ports of entry,” the senior fellow explained. “Furthermore, their diversification of tradecraft using everything from false documentation to exploiting vulnerabilities in our border screening protocols, equips these individuals with a varied arsenal designed to overwhelm our defenses.”  

Todd Bensman, a national security fellow at the Center for Immigration Studies, said many of the Chinese nationals who cross the border illegally commit the second crime of  “asylum fraud” after entering the country.  

Holding up a crumpled passport, Bensman said Chinese nationals “disfigure and toss their passports, like this one, because the stamps inside prove their holders passed through safe countries that would have granted protection. That would disqualify them for U.S. asylum.” 

“This administration tolerates mass, illegal entry and asylum fraud,” he added.  

Since President Joe Biden took office, CBP has encountered nearly 150,000 Chinese nationals at and between U.S. ports of entry, about 50,000 of which have been encountered along the southern border.  

“To be sure, most of those 50,000 Chinese nationals are merely coming to work and enjoy America’s famed lifestyle,” Bensman said. “But there can be little doubt that Beijing’s spymasters also noticed right away when a welcome wagon greeted the first of its 50,000 citizens, that America’s new president had just opened a new superhighway over the U.S. southwest border, tailor-built to carry intelligence operatives. U.S. counter-intelligence agencies must assume Beijing is already injecting agents into this flow.”