China Among ‘Uncooperative’ Countries Refusing to Take Back Migrants: GOP Letter

A group of 17 Republican lawmakers said Thursday that there are over 100,000 deportees waiting to be sent back to countries that are refusing to take them off the United States’ hands.

The members of Congress, including Chip Roy of Texas and Matt Gaetz of Florida, wrote to Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas and Secretary of State Antony Blinken to raise their concerns about 13 countries, including China.

The letter, obtained by Newsweek, lays out worries around national security after around 31,000 Chinese nationals had crossed the border illegally since October.

“In fact, China is one of 13 countries considered uncooperative or ‘recalcitrant,’ systematically refusing or needlessly delaying the repatriation of their citizens,” the letter says.

Chinese migrants at US Mexico border
Chinese migrants attempting to cross in to the U.S. from Mexico sit by a fire as they are detained by U.S. Customs and Border Protection at the border November 12, 2023 in Jacumba, California.

Nick Ut/Getty Images

Pointing to U.S. Customs and Border Protection data, the letter stated there had been a 1,800% increase in detentions of Chinese nationals illegally crossing the border since 2020.

At the same time, CBP had only successfully deported 288 of around 100,000 who had been detained and selected for removal.

Those behind the letter appeared to rest the blame for the delay with Beijing, which the group said had been “slow or outright refused” to repatriate its citizens.

The letter references a July 2 flight, on which 116 Chinese nationals were placed to send home. The lawmakers complained that information on whether those being deported had criminal backgrounds or ties to espionage networks was not disclosed.

The letter also referred to other countries as recalcitrant in taking back their citizens, including Bhutan, Burundi, Cambodia, Cuba, Eritrea, Hong Kong, India, Iran, Iraq, Laos, Pakistan and Russia.

Among others considered at risk of non-compliance with repatriation moves were Afghanistan, Ukraine and Yemen.

The group wants to know if the Biden administration had stopped issuing visas to citizens from these countries, while also asking what the status was of migrants who had been given final orders of removal and what was being done to tackle the backlog.

Newsweek reached out to the Department of Homeland Security Thursday afternoon for comment.

In June, CBP recorded 84,000 encounters at the southwest border, the lowest of President Biden’s presidency but higher than during Donald Trump’s term. In total this fiscal year – since Oct. 2023 – there have been over 1.3 million encounters, with the highest number from Mexico.

The letter comes after the GOP set out its 2024 election platform, which included a promise to ramp-up deportations of migrants already in the country illegally.

Do you have a story Newsweek should be covering? Do you have any questions about this story? Contact