Despite the chance of failure and a steep price, some Chinese still take the risk of entering the United States illegally.
The prospect of a better life here continues to draw people to come here undocumented. The U.S. Border Patrol reported that in the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 332 Chinese were detained in the Tucson sector, a dramatic jump from the 30 caught the year before.
Smuggling Chinese immigrants is a lucrative business. A price tag of $40,000 is typical. With increased security in the nation’s ports, smuggling Chinese across Arizona’s Sonoran Desert is a safer option. Most of these recent immigrants are from Fujian Province in southeastern China opposite Taiwan.
The first Chinese arrived in the United States during the mid-1800s and settled mostly in the West. Attracted by the California Gold Rush, thousands came with high hopes. Segregationist laws against Chinese immigrants were passed late in the century, laws not repealed until World War II.
Beginning in the 1980s, many Chinese from Fujian began coming here illegally. But now instead of sneaking them in on cargo ships, smugglers use fake documents to fly them to Mexico. From there it’s on to the United States. U.S. border officials say that Mexican smuggling groups are also involved.
Peter Chan, A businessman in Tucson who also works as an interpreter for the federal court there told The New York Times that the immigrants left China due to a lack of educational and employment opportunities.
New York Times
In Arizona, a Growing Stream of Illegal Immigrants from China
By Stephen Ceasar
January 22, 2010
Smuggled Chinese Travel Circuitously to U.S.
By Irene Jay Liu
November 20, 2007
Chinese Immigrants Chase Opportunity in America
By Irene Jay Liu
November 19, 2007
Center for International Research, U.S. Bureau of the Census
Population and Migration Characteristics of Fujian Province, China
By Judith Banister, Christina Wu Harbaugh and Ellen Jamison
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More about Fujian: Here is a video on Fujianese tea from a tea video podcast by Andrea Serrano filmed in Tucson, Arizona