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Sunday, July 21, 2024

U.S. Conducts First Major Deportation Flight of Chinese Migrants Since 2018

The United States has conducted its first large-scale deportation flight to China since 2018, sending a group of migrants back to their home country. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced on Tuesday that this operation was carried out over the weekend in coordination with Chinese authorities and that more deportation flights are being arranged.

Although the DHS did not disclose the number of migrants on the charter flight, reports from The Associated Press and The Wall Street Journal indicate that 116 individuals were deported. The deportation marks a significant development in the collaboration between U.S. and Chinese authorities on immigration issues.

This announcement comes amidst a heated debate over immigration and border policies in the lead-up to the U.S. presidential election in November. There has been a notable increase in Chinese migrants attempting to enter the United States through its southern border, driven by bleak economic conditions and political oppression in China. These migrants often take a perilous journey through the Darién Gap, a dangerous and rugged stretch of terrain on the border between Panama and Colombia. This route has gained popularity on social media as the primary land route north from South America to the United States.

Once they reach the U.S. southern border, these migrants typically surrender to border officers and apply for asylum, citing credible fear of persecution if they are sent back to China. The DHS’s recent actions signal a shift in handling such cases, with a focus on expedited removal proceedings in collaboration with the migrants’ home countries.

On Monday, the U.S. government announced a new agreement with Panama aimed at curbing the flow of migrants through the Darién Gap. As part of this agreement, the United States will provide funding and training for Panama’s new flight removal program. This initiative is intended to enhance the capacity for detaining and deporting migrants who use the Darién Gap route.

In the fiscal year 2023, U.S. Customs and Border Protection reported temporarily detaining over 24,000 Chinese migrants at the U.S. southern border. This figure surpasses the total number of Chinese migrants detained in the previous decade combined. The influx of Chinese migrants has made them the fourth-largest group attempting to cross into the U.S. via the southern border, behind Venezuelans, Ecuadoreans, and Haitians, according to Panama’s immigration authorities.

The increase in Chinese migrants seeking entry into the United States highlights the broader trend of rising migration from various countries due to economic instability and political unrest. The U.S. government’s response, including the recent deportation flight and the agreement with Panama, reflects ongoing efforts to manage and control the flow of migrants at the southern border.

The Chinese Embassy in Washington has not yet responded to requests for comment on the deportation flight and the new immigration measures. The situation continues to evolve as the U.S. and China navigate the complexities of immigration enforcement and bilateral cooperation.

As the U.S. presidential election approaches, immigration policy remains a contentious issue. The recent deportation of Chinese migrants and the measures taken to address the flow of migrants through the Darién Gap are likely to influence the national debate on border security and immigration reform. The outcomes of these policies and their impact on the migrant population will be closely monitored in the coming months.

Jonathan James
Jonathan James
I serve as a Senior Executive Journalist of The National Era
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