TUCSON, Arizona (AP) — Several groups of illegal immigrants from China have been arrested in southern Arizona in recent days. On Oct. 12, U.S. Border Patrol agents said it was part of an increasing trend fed by smugglers recruiting tourists to Central and South America.
The arrests included two Chinese found among a large group of migrants who entered the county from Mexico on Oct. 9. Three more Chinese were found Oct. 10, a group that included four Chinese was captured Oct. 11, and four more were arrested early Monday.
All were discovered close to the border near Nogales, Ariz.
The Border Patrol has seen a small but significant rise in the number of Chinese caught after entering Arizona from Mexico, agent Colleen Agle said. Between Oct. 1, 2008, and the end of August, agents captured 261 illegal immigrants from China in the patrol’s Tucson sector in southern Arizona.
Just 30 Chinese were caught in the same area during the federal fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, 2008.
The numbers are still tiny compared with the number of Mexican migrants caught. In the 12 months ending Sept. 3,
Border Patrol agents in the Tucson sector arrested more than 241,000 suspected illegal immigrants.
Increases in personnel and technology have helped put pressure on traditional routes for illegal Chinese immigrants, Agle said.
But the Border Patrol believes that isn’t driving the current increase. Instead, human smuggling organizations in Mexico have become aware of increasing numbers of Chinese tourists in Central and South America, Agle said. They’re targeting them as potential customers, she said, and enticing them to be smuggled into the U.S. ♦