DHS deports 116 Chinese illegal migrants amid flood of border encounters

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recently flew over 100 Chinese illegal migrants back to their country, the agency announced.

In a press statement released Tuesday, the DHS explained that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) “conducted a removal flight” carrying Chinese nationals over the weekend. The flight carried 116 Chinese migrants, according to the Associated Press.

The DHS disclosed that the flight was its first large charter flight since 2018. The agency’s statement did not disclose details about the migrants, but it referenced efforts to “reduce and deter irregular migration and to disrupt illicit human smuggling.”

“DHS continues to work with the PRC’s Ministry of Public Security and National Immigration Administration on additional removal flights,” the department said.

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The number of encounters with Chinese migrants at the U.S. southern border has skyrocketed in recent years. Border officials arrested more than 37,000 Chinese migrants in 2023, and encounters with Chinese nationals have increased by more than 6,000% since 2021.

The press release also promised to deliver “tough consequences” for illegal migrants, and referenced measures that President Biden has taken to curb illegal immigration at a time when the president is being heavily criticized over his border policies.

The DHS also said that the flight is the result of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas’s “continued efforts to engage the [People’s Republic of China] on areas of mutual interest.”

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“DHS regularly engages counterparts throughout the hemisphere and around the world to accept repatriations of nationals without a lawful basis to remain in the United States and take other steps to reduce irregular migration, promote safe, lawful, and orderly pathways, and hold transnational criminal networks accountable for abusing our lawful trade and travel systems and the smuggling and exploitation of vulnerable people,” the statement read.

“To that end, the United States also welcomes the recent announcement from Ecuador to require visas for passport holders from the PRC given smugglers’ efforts to exploit that route.”

Mayorkas also added that Americans “should not believe the lies of smugglers.”

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

The Associated Press and Fox News Digital’s Adam Shaw contributed to this report.