Republican Senators Demand Answers on National Security Threats Posed by Chinese Nationals Illegally Entering US
Republican senators are demanding answers from Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas over the national security threats posed by a surge in Chinese nationals illegally entering the United States via the southern border.
Led by Sen. Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), five senators wrote a letter (pdf) to Mr. Mayorkas on Sept. 20, pointing out that over 18,000 Chinese nationals have illegally crossed the southern border in fiscal year 2023. The lawmakers expressed concerns that these illegal Chinese immigrants could engage in espionage activities on U.S. soil at the direction of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
Moreover, the lawmakers alleged that some of the more than 18,000 individuals could have ties to the CCP military, formally known as the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).
“Chinese nationals crossing the border may include individuals who could engage in espionage activities or cyber-attacks against our critical infrastructure, government agencies, or private sector entities,” the lawmakers wrote. “There have been numerous documented instances of Chinese nationals, at the direction of the CCP, engaging in espionage, stealing military and economic secrets.”
In comparison, 2,176 Chinese nationals crossed the southern border illegally in fiscal year 2022, and 450 in fiscal year 2021, according to data from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
In July alone, there were 3,106 encounters with illegal Chinese immigrants at the southern border. By contrast, U.S. border agents recorded 306 encounters during the same month in 2022, and 75 in 2021.
Most of the illegal Chinese immigrants are single adults. According to CBP data, about 86 percent of encounters from October last year to July this year involved single adults.
“This trend poses a significant threat to our national security and warrants immediate attention and action from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS),” the lawmakers wrote.
“Furthermore, it is our understanding that not a single one of these individuals encountered has been detained for any length of time but rather benefitted from this administration’s policy of catch and release,” the lawmakers continued. “CBP is releasing busloads of these individuals into the U.S. interior.”
The lawmakers wanted Mr. Mayorkas to answer more than 10 questions before Oct. 11.
“How does Customs and Border Protection identify the nationality of those from China and whether or not they have ties to the CCP or PLA?” one question in the letter asks.
“Has CBP identified any instances of Chinese nationals apprehended at the border being suspected of intending to engage in foreign espionage?” says another question. “Where have Chinese nationals apprehended at the border been released into the United States?”
Sens. Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Pete Ricketts (R-Neb.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) signed the letter.
To prevent CCP members from claiming asylum in the United States, Mr. Rubio, Mr. Marshall, Mr. Braun, and Mr. Ricketts, along with Sens. Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), introduced the No Asylum for CCP Spies Act (S.2905) on Sept. 21.
“The American people are facing the repercussions of the Biden Administration’s open border policy, which is creating chaos and putting our communities at risk. We don’t know who’s illegally entering our nation,” Mr. Rubio wrote in a statement accompanying the introduction of the bill.
Mr. Rubio added, “This presents an opportunity for the Chinese Communist Party to further take advantage and threaten our democracy and national security interests.”
The legislation would amend the Immigration and Nationality Act. According to the text (pdf) of the bill, there are several conditions that a foreign national can be granted asylum, including having “publicly renounced his or her membership in the Communist or totalitarian party.”
In addition, a foreign national can prove to the attorney general or the secretary of homeland security that his party membership was either “involuntary, limited to a period when the alien was younger than 16 years of age,” or “solely for the purpose of obtaining employment, food rations, or other living essentials.”
Finally, the attorney general or the secretary of homeland security can determine that a foreign national “is not a danger to the security of the United States,” after consulting the director of national intelligence.
“Since Joe Biden refuses to stop the flow of Chinese nationals streaming across our southern border, Senator Rubio’s No Asylum for CCP Spies Act is needed to disincentivize these individuals from invading our country,” Mr. Marshall wrote in a statement accompanying the introduction of the bill.
Mr. Marshall added, “We must strip asylum eligibility from the communist spies who are no doubt hiding among the masses at the southern border.”
According to CBP data, there have been 39,575 encounters with Chinese nationals at the northern and southern borders from October last year to July this year. In comparison, there were 27,756 encounters in fiscal year 2022.
A companion version of the legislation has been introduced in the House by Reps. Mark Green (R-Tenn.), Troy Nehls (R-Texas), and Byron Donald (R-Fla.).
“Asylum is intended to be a form of protection that allows an individual to remain in the United States instead of being removed from a country where they will face persecution. If these individuals claiming asylum in the United States are members of the CCP, they are not in fear of returning to Communist China,” Mr. Nehls said in a statement accompanying the introduction of the bill.
“They are here to infiltrate our society, steal our intellectual property, gain our country’s secrets, and report back to [Chinese leader] Xi Jinping.”
What actions are being taken by the Department of Homeland Security to screen and vet Chinese nationals crossing the southern border and prevent espionage activities?
=”noopener”>Customs and Border Protection (CBP) data. This represents a significant increase in the number of Chinese nationals illegally entering the United States.