Vice.com — For years, the border separating the United States from Mexico has been the focal point for immigration debates in America—both concerning Mexicans and, more recently, the surge of families and children fleeing Central America and entering the US through Mexico.
But this summer, a new trend is emerging on the section of the border where San Diego meets Tijuana: The number of Chinese immigrants caught crossing into the United States from Mexico has skyrocketed.
From October 1, 2015 to May 31, 2016, Border Patrol agents apprehended 663 Chinese immigrants at that part of the border, according to a report last week in the Los Angeles Times. It’s a major spike compared to previous figures: In the entire 2015 fiscal year, only 48 Chinese nationals were apprehended in that area. The year before that, just eight.
The jump amounts to an 8,188 percent increase over the course of three years—and there are still four months left in the current fiscal year, so the tally for the full year is expected to be even higher.
Compared to the rest of the border, the surge of Chinese immigrants in the San Diego area seems like little more than a blip on the immigration radar. In the first seven months of this fiscal year, Border Patrol agents logged 223,871 apprehensions along the Southwest border, according to data from the agency obtained by VICE. Immigrants from Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras made up 95 percent of that total.
“When you really look in the overall scheme of migration, it’s an incredibly small number of people,” said Muzaffar Chishti, one of the directors at the Migration Policy Institute, a think tank focused on immigration. “If the numbers become 20,000 next month, I may say there is something else going on. But on the basis of these numbers, they do not rise to the level of an alarm or a fundamentally different pattern of migration.” Click here for more www.vice.com