GOP lawmakers say China must be fined over rising illegal immigrants

Members of the Republican House of Representatives on Thursday called on the Biden administration to impose sanctions on China for refusing to cooperate in taking back its illegal immigrants and said the US should start issuing visas to would-be Chinese migrants refuse.

The letter, first obtained by the Washington Times and cited by Rep. Tom Tiffany, pointed to a rising tide of illegal immigrants from China turning up at the US-Mexico border.

American officials say China is generally bad at taking them back, so they are caught and released to the US with little hope of being ousted.

The US even has a hard time sending back criminals.

“This is something the migrants and smugglers no doubt understand and helps explain the premium Chinese migrants pay to make the perilous journey,” wrote Mr. Tiffany, a Wisconsin Republican, along with three GOP colleagues.

China has long been described by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement as a “recalcitrant” country in taking back its deportees.

But Beijing made its opposition clear last summer after then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi traveled to Taiwan. China’s Foreign Ministry publishes a List of retaliatory actionsone of them was the “suspension of Sino-US cooperation on the repatriation of illegal immigrants.”

Mr Tiffany and his colleagues said US law requires sanctions against countries that refuse to cooperate. Section 243(d) of the Immigration and Nationality Act states that the State Department shall suspend visas when the Secretary of Homeland Security files a notice that a country is negligent.

If it has been triggered in the past, visas are usually only denied to government officials and their families. But the law provides for a categorical ban.

“Perhaps more troubling is that the government appears to be doing very little to hold China’s unelected leaders and elites accountable. This makes little sense since you both have a powerful tool at your disposal to do just that,” the GOP lawmakers wrote to Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas.

GOP lawmakers asked Mr. Mayorkas if he had filed a notice labeling China and if not, when he would do so.

When Mr Blinken was notified, lawmakers asked for an explanation as to why he did not act.

The State Department declined to comment on the letter and its plans for China.

The Washington Times has also reached out to Homeland Security.

Officials have said in the past that imposing sanctions raises sensitive international relations issues, and the State Department has been reluctant to go down that route.

Public records are not clear on China’s current status.

ICE earlier published a list of countries at risk of sanctions on its website, and China was on that list. ICE deleted the list from its site at the end of February.

Meanwhile, the US embassy in Beijing says it is still offering “regular visa services,” according to GOP lawmakers.

ICE data shows that only 137 people were deported to China in fiscal 2022 and only 136 in 2021. These numbers were lower than 320 in 2020, 637 in 2019, and 726 in 2018.

Customs and Border Protection recorded more than 18,000 unauthorized entries by Chinese migrants in fiscal year 2020, more than 23,000 in 2021 and nearly 28,000 last year. The rate has increased in fiscal 2023, with January and February recording more than 3,000 per month.

A little less than half of them come via the southern border, and they usually sneak between the official border crossings. On the northern border, almost all of the 1,550 Chinese migrants arrested in January and February were found at border crossings.

Another 2,000 were encountered along the coast or at an airport.

Few will be deported under the pandemic Title 42 border closure, meaning most will be allowed into the US and given a chance to present a case before an immigration judge. Since China refuses to take most people back, they are unlikely to be brought back even if they lose their case.

GOP lawmakers — alongside Mr. Tiffany’s included Representatives Lance Gooden of Texas, Scott Perry of Pennsylvania and Andy Ogles of Tennessee — pointed to the exorbitant prices Chinese migrants are paying smugglers to help them reach the US

The Washington Times has reported cases of payments of up to $80,000 for Chinese migrants trying to sneak into California.

This is helping to boost an overall economy of more than $20 billion a year from migrant smuggling on the southern border, according to an estimate by The Washington Times.

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