Chinese Migrants Say TikTok Is Helping Them Cross U.S. Border



A Chinese migrant sit in front of his tent near the US-Mexico border fence in Jacumba, California, on December 6, 2023. Hundreds of migrants who cross into the United States each day are being herded into open-air camps, where they have no access to food or water, with some are left to sleep on the open ground in a desert riddled with scorpions and snakes, activists say. (Photo by VALERIE MACON / AFP) (Photo by VALERIE MACON/AFP via Getty Images)
A Chinese migrant sit in front of his tent near the US-Mexico border fence in Jacumba, California, on December 6, 2023. (Photo by VALERIE MACON/AFP via Getty Images)

By Taylor Tinsley
4:19 PM – Monday, February 12, 2024

As thousands of migrants continue to arrive at the southern border, Chinese immigrants say videos on TikTok are showing them how and where to illegally enter the United States.

During a recent segment featured on CBS’s “60 Minutes,” dozens of migrants could be seen entering the U.S. through a gap at the border fence in Jacumba, California, just 60-miles east of San Diego.

This comes amid a surge in Chinese immigrants, many of which are seeking political asylum.

Some of those crossing the border said they traveled for 40 days across at least seven countries in order to reach Mexico.

Over the course of four days, crews said human smugglers dropped off a new vehicle of migrants every half hour, totaling at nearly 600 people.

A 37-year-old Chinese woman told “60 Minutes” that she learned of the entryway from TikTok.

Some videos on the Chinese-run social media platform give users instructions on how to find gaps in the border wall and even how to hire smugglers to give them a ride.

A TikTok spokesperson said the platform prohibits human smuggling and removes such videos. 

Meanwhile, its website says TikTok provides a place for “survivors of human exploitation to share their stories, and for migrants and refugees to be able to document their journeys, so we provide a space to do so.” 

TikTok is not banned in mainland China, it’s just “inaccessible.” The country has its own version of the platform called Douyin where a Chinese phone number is required.

Citizens have been able to find ways to use TikTok instead of Douyin, however, such as installing a third party system into their cell phones or not inserting a China SIM card.

Created by ByteDance, Douyin originally launched in 2016 and the company released TikTok as an overseas alternative in late 2016.

According to data from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection approximately 37,000 Chinese nationals were apprehended at the border in 2023.

According to the Department of Justice 2,681, or 55%, of Chinese immigrants were granted asylum.

Meanwhile, with Senate Republicans killing the most recent border bill, immigration reform continues to take the spotlight for top issues heading into the 2024 election.

 

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