Chinese migrants line up to take a boat to Lajas Blancas after walking across the Darien Gap in Bajo Chiquito, Panama, Sunday, May 7, 2023. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
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SAN DIEGO (NewsNation) — Border communities in San Diego County, California, are experiencing an unusual surge in Chinese migrants crossing illegally into the U.S., thanks in part to social media posts and videos providing step-by-step guidance.

In the past two days, NewsNation found hundreds of Chinese nationals in two different makeshift camps on the border in Jacumba Hot Springs.

In October, more than 4,000 Chinese nationals were apprehended, a significant increase compared to the 329 encountered in the same month last fiscal year.

NewsNation cameras captured a large group of Chinese nationals being processed by Border Patrol agents, mostly single adult men. Due to language barriers, processing Chinese migrants takes longer, further straining overwhelmed Border Patrol agents coping with the surge in illegal crossings.

Hundreds of Chinese migrants are living in makeshift camps, awaiting processing. They expressed a desire to escape the Chinese Communist government, seeking asylum in the U.S.

Bian, from Vietnam, and her husband from China, reached the camps Monday morning. The couple traveled through seven countries to reach the U.S.

The migration is fueled by Chinese social apps like WeChat guiding migrants on the journey from China to the U.S. Most Chinese migrants fly to Ecuador, as the country doesn’t require a travel visa.

In the first nine months of this year, more than 15,000 Chinese migrants navigated the dangerous Darien Gap, the thick jungle teeming with snakes, bandits and treacherous rivers that separates Colombia from Panama, according to the Panamanian government.

Law enforcement sources told NewsNation that upon arrival in Mexico, smugglers can earn up to $35,000 per Chinese migrant brought to the U.S. border.

Faced with the strain on county resources from the migrant surge, San Diego County officials are scheduled to vote Tuesday on whether to spend an additional $3 million in taxpayer funds for migrant services. In November, officials voted to spend $3 million for services to help migrants and asylum seekers. If Tuesday’s vote is approved, it would bring the total to $6 million.

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