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ICE chief says this foreign adversary isn’t taking back its illegal immigrants

China is one of the top countries that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is facing issues with in terms of getting it to take back nationals who have crossed into the U.S. illegally.

The head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) told lawmakers this week that China is one of the top three countries he has identified as not doing enough to receive their illegal immigrants — just as the number of Chinese nationals has increased dramatically at the southern border.

At a House Appropriations Committee hearing, acting ICE Director Patrick Lechleitner was asked by Rep. John Rutherford, R-Fla., to identify the top countries that are the most difficult to send back their nationals who are being deported from the U.S.

"We've got Bhutan, top of the list there, Cambodia, they've been challenging, the People’s Republic of China, although we’ve had some recent cautiously optimistic progress with the Chinese, so I want to say it’s moving in the right direction there."

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He also said that ICE is working with both other DHS agencies and the State Department in trying to rectify recalcitrant countries, but he noted that "it’s not an easy issue for them either," given other factors, including geopolitical issues.

DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas recently told lawmakers in the House that there recently had been one deportation flight to China after he spoke to counterparts in the communist country.

The number of Chinese nationals entering the United States illegally and stopped by Border Patrol so far this fiscal year has exceeded the enormous number seen in all of fiscal year 2023 — with six months still to go.

CLICK HERE FOR MORE COVERAGE OF THE BORDER SECURITY CRISIS

According to Customs and Border Protection (CBP) data, in the first six months of fiscal 2024, which began in October, Border Patrol had caught 24,296 Chinese nationals crossing illegally between ports of entry. That exceeds the 24,125 caught in all of fiscal year 2023.

For comparison, in fiscal 2022, there were just 1,987 apprehensions, and in fiscal 2021 there were just 342. 

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Those numbers only account for those entering illegally between ports of entry. Including ports of entry, there have been 41,970 encounters, compared to 52,700 in fiscal 2023.

Lawmakers and officials have raised concerns about the migrants' potential ties to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the movement of fentanyl into the U.S.

Last month, a Chinese illegal immigrant was detained in California after entering a Marine Corps base without authorization and ignoring orders to leave.

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