Chinese illegal immigrants discovered in Texas border town
LA JOYA, Texas (AP) -- Local police are accustomed to dealing with illegal border crossings but were astounded by the video of 15 Chinese immigrants unfolding themselves from the back of a sport-utility vehicle near this small border town.
Immigration officials are seeing fewer Chinese immigrants along the U.S.-Mexico border.
The SUV appeared abandoned when police rolled up early on a recent Saturday morning. But when Border Patrol agents arrived and swung open the double rear doors, the Chinese immigrants tumbled out, squinting in the sunlight.
"They were in bad shape," La Joya Police spokesman Joe Cantu said.
The immigrants were silent, able to communicate only with hand gestures. They did not try to flee. One man wanted to use Cantu's cell phone. When Cantu asked for the number, he was handed one with a New York area code.
Two more Chinese immigrants would be picked up nearby later that day, and another group of nine was caught near the border about 50 miles (80 kilometers) away a few days later.
More than nine out of 10 illegal immigrants detained at the U.S.-Mexico border are Mexican. But for years, this easternmost sector of the border has had more than its share of what the Border Patrol calls "other than Mexicans" or OTMs, most of whom come from Central America.
But overall, the number of Chinese caught along the U.S.-Mexico border has been declining since the U.S. stopped its policy of releasing most illegal immigrants from outside Mexico until they could appear before an immigration judge.
After surpassing 2,100 in 2005 and 2006, the number of Chinese immigrants caught along the southwest border from San Diego to Brownsville, Texas, fell last year to 837, slightly more than 1 percent of all OTM apprehensions, according to Border Patrol data. In the first eight months of this fiscal year, which began October 1, 512 Chinese were caught along the border with Mexico.
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