US Deports Large Group of Chinese Migrants in Rare Expulsion

By: Alex Trent | Published: Jul 04, 2024

For the first time in five years, the United States has prepared a large charter flight to deport a group of over 100 Chinese migrants.

This move by the Department of Homeland Security comes in the context of a fierce political conversation about a recent record-high influx of migrants into the United States and President Joe Biden’s attempts at cracking down on immigrant crossings.

Homeland Security Statement

On Tuesday, the Department of Homeland Security announced the deportation of 116 Chinese migrants from the United States.

The silhouette of a plane flying through dark storm clouds.

Source: Trinity Moss/Unsplash

“We will continue to enforce our immigration laws and remove individuals without a legal basis to remain in the United States,” said Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.


Cooperation With China

Reportedly, the DHS has been working better with the country of China to “reduce and deter irregular migration and to disrupt illicit human smuggling through expanded law enforcement efforts.”

Xi Jinping and Joe Biden shaking hands and smiling.

Source: Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons

This cooperation is likely what led to this latest action since in recent times the US has had difficulty returning Chinese nationals back to China because the state is not keen to receive them.

Resuming Cooperation

In May, AP reported that the United States and China had quietly begun cooperating again on the deportation of Chinese immigrants from the United States. The Chinese foreign ministry in a statement to AP said that China was “willing to maintain dialogue and cooperation in the area of immigration enforcement with the U.S.”

Nancy Pelosi speaking in front of American flags.

Us Department of Labor/Wikimedia

China had previously suspended cooperation in 2022 after US House member Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan, whose government China does not recognize.

Border Crisis

A recent high inpouring of immigrants into the United States has some terming the movement a “migrant crisis” because of humanitarian concerns and the strain it is putting on city resources across the country.

Joe Biden walking with border control agents at the U.S. southern border in the daytime.

Source: Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons

In December, the US saw the highest monthly total on record for migrant crossings where Border Patrol had nearly 250,000 encounters with migrants.

Chinese Immigration

While migrants crossing into America from countries to the south get more attention in the news, record numbers of immigrants from other places like China are coming to the US border as well.

A street in China when it's raining. People are walking down the street holding umbrellas.

Nuno Alberto/Unsplash

US officials at the border arrested 10 times the number of Chinese nationals at the southern border in 2023 than they did the year before.


Why Are Chinese Immigrants Coming to the US?

According to immigration data, Chinese arrivals at the border are immediately making asylum claims and reporting to authorities, spurred on by a recent trend of emigration after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Chinese migrants talking with a Border Patrol agent at the southern border in the evening.

Source: Brandon Bell/Getty Images

The United States’ strong recovery from the pandemic compared to China makes it one of the top destinations for low-income workers who are suffered under China’s weak recovery and lockdowns.


Reducing Migration Ability

Recently, several factors have been put into place to make it more difficult for migrants to seek asylum in the United States. Mexican border officials have increased activity to better prevent those trying to cross their northern border.

A jungle path located in the Darién Gap between Columbia and Panama.

Source: Päivi & Santeri/Wikimedia

Panama is taking steps to shut down the popular migrant crossing route known as the Darien Gap and Ecuador is ending its visa-free entry policy for Chinese immigrants that made it a popular starting point for Chinese nationals. 


Building an Army

Republicans, including former President Donald Trump, have been trying to make Chinese migration into a political issue and raise fears about what it means. In an interview earlier this year, Trump accused Chinese immigrants arriving at the southern border of “probably building an army” and that many are “fighting-age” Chinese men.

Close-up of Donald Trump speaking into a microphone, with an intense expression on his face

Source: Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons

President Biden for his part has also recently hardened his stance on China, accusing the country of “unfair trade practices” that “threaten American businesses” and has changed his tune on Trump-era policies around tariffs.


Political Climate of Immigration

Critics of the former President have seized on his comments to accuse him of spreading hate against Chinese people and Asian Americans.

The China flag flies in the wind.

Source: Alejandro Luengo/Unsplash

“Trump’s dehumanizing rhetoric and blatant attacks against immigrant communities will, without question, only fuel more hate against not only Chinese immigrants but all Asian Americans in the U.S.,” said Cynthia Choi, co-founder of Stop AAPI Hate and co-executive director of Chinese for Affirmative Action. “In the midst of an already inflamed political climate and election year, we know all too well how harmful such rhetoric can be.”


Gripped by Fear

Others have expressed a feeling of fear created by those who want to crack down on Asian immigrants, saying it reminds them of negative attitudes toward Asians espoused during the pandemic.

A woman wearing a mask while riding a train

Source: Ketut Subiyanto/Pexels

“To know that we might be staring down another round of that, it’s pretty sobering,” said Gregg Orton, national director of the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans.


Asian Hate Crimes

In 2022, a report from the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism found hate crimes against Asians increased by 339 percent nationwide since the previous year.

Protestors hold signs demanding a stop to hateful conduct towards Asians.

Source: Kareem Hayes/Unsplash

Some major cities like New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco saw record numbers of Asian hate crimes that had previously been set during 2020.