The number of unauthorized Chinese immigrants coming to San Diego has skyrocketed in recent years, the result of a lucrative smuggling industry, mass emigration from China and a diversifying pool of unauthorized immigrants settling in the United States. Border Patrol agents in the San Diego sector apprehended an estimated 663 Chinese nationals between October and May, compared with 48 Chinese nationals last fiscal year, five in fiscal 2014 and eight in fiscal 2013, according to data provided by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
Before that, “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 each several thousands of dollars to get them across the border. “We’re talking anywhere from $50,000 to $70,000 per person,” said Lee. “The further you travel from, the more arrangements these criminal organizations have to make, the more expensive it will get.”Obviously these are not huge numbers, but this is local to San Diego. Nationally, the number of Chinese immigrants to the US--both documented and undocumented--has been steadily rising over time, as the Migration Policy Institute reported in January. The timing of this increase in people crossing the U.S.-Mexico border suggests the possibility of human traffickers convincing would-be migrants that they better get across now before "a wall" is built if Trump is elected.