Chinese Migration Up at Border as U.S. Marks Anniversary of Repeal of Exclusion Act

While he said he objected to China’s COVID-19 lockdown policies and human rights record, he had also protested against the Chinese government after he arrived in the U.S., which prompted local law enforcement to visit his uncle’s home in China.

We must not stop [protesting the Chinese government] overseas, despite their threats to intimidate my family, my uncle, and the others. So, when we are overseas, we cannot keep a low profile. If we don’t speak out when [our families] are threatened, they [the Chinese government] know this method is effective and they will threaten others again,” he said.

Chinese Exclusion Act
The Chinese Exclusion Act, which passed in 1882, was the only law in U.S. history that singled out a specific ethnic group. President Franklin D. Roosevelt officially ended the act on Dec. 17, 1943, and granted Chinese Americans equal citizenship rights for the first time.

Renata Castro, a Florida-based immigration lawyer, says today’s Chinese migrants, if they are unable to come to the U.S. with an existing visa, are finding other ways to flee the world’s second-most populous nation, including showing up at the U.S.-Mexico border to seek asylum.

Mainly because these are individuals that are escaping the oppressions of the Chinese government. … But most importantly, they are fleeing the lack of economic expectations they have in China right now,” she said.

When people come to the U.S. seeking protection because they have suffered persecution or are afraid that they will suffer persecution based on race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular group, they are permitted to file for asylum regardless of their immigration status.

But to apply for asylum, a person must be present in the U.S.

Chinese migrants who cross into the U.S. without authorization usually wait for agents from U.S. Border Patrol to pick them up. Once the agents process these migrants, many are assigned court dates and released in cities close to their final destination, adding to an immigration court system that is taking about five years to decide cases.

According to October data from Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, Chinese migrants were granted asylum nearly 67% of the time in immigration courts over the past two decades — one of the highest rates by nationality. The reasons, per the Christian nonprofit ChinaAid, is the continuing decline in human rights conditions, higher accessibility to information on social media about crossing the U.S. Mexico border, and restrictions on religious freedom.

Out of 108,273 Chinese migrant applications, 77,711 were granted asylum. Asylum was denied to 29,635 and 927 applications received another type of immigration relief.

Aline Barros is an immigration reporter for VOA’s News Center in Washington, D.C.VOA’s Tracy Wen Liu contributed to this report. This article is published courtesy of the Voice of America (VOA).