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

Chinese illegal immigrants are making an arduous journey to the U.S. southern border, skipping through multiple countries to get there.

FIRST ON FOX: Chinese migrants are making their way to the U.S. southern border in record numbers as part of a migration crisis of global proportions and are traveling through multiple countries to get there.

So far in federal fiscal year 2024, which began Oct. 1, 2023, there have been over 22,000 migrant encounters of Chinese nationals at the southern border. That’s on pace to exceed the 24,314 encountered in fiscal 2023. That was a massive increase from the 2,176 encountered in fiscal 2022 and 450 encountered in fiscal 2021.

Fox News spoke this month to 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.


His Douyin account, the Chinese version of TikTok, shows his family in China on the way to the airport. He says he has collected information online about a way to travel to the U.S., including information on routes, border navigation and how to dispose of information so one's origin cannot be traced. People "vlog" about their journey on Chinese social media apps to get in contact with other Chinese nationals in the U.S. who can help find them jobs and a place to live.

He says they left China in January and have traveled from China to Thailand (with a transfer in Bahrain) then going through Morocco (with a transfer in Spain), Ecuador, Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala and now into Mexico.

So far, they’ve spent nearly $17,000 to make their way to the U.S. and are using a mix of cash, bank cards and app-based payments. Unlike many migrants, who will pay smugglers to guide them, this migrant designed all the routes himself, including 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, while Republicans have accused the administration of encouraging the flow with its reversal of Trump-era policies, a claim the administration has rejected. But the migrant Fox spoke to expressed indifference about who is running the country.

Migrants have different motivations for going to the U.S., some for more political or religious freedom, some because the U.S. offers benefits like health care, while others travel to America because they have lost faith in the Chinese economic recovery.

"No matter whether it is Trump or Biden, we just wanted to come to the United States. 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 risks not only on the journey but even in China. One 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. 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 moved over to Mexico but was deported. He also 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. 

He also posted on Douyin, including about his experience of being removed from Mexico. In the comment sections of his videos, there were many comments suggesting 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.

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