(NewsNation) — U.S. Border Patrol reported a spike in Chinese nationals apprehended at the southern border trying to enter the U.S.
In this fiscal year, 1,667 Chinese nationals have been apprehended, and 91% of them are single adults. On Thursday, Border Patrol agents apprehended 90 Chinese nationals, the most encountered in a single day since 2010.
The Rio Grande Valley region of Texas leads the nation in Chinese nationals apprehended crossing illegally into the U.S.
The journey for many of these Chinese nationals begins in Ecuador, sources tell NewsNation. Ecuador is one of the few countries that doesn’t require tourist visas for Chinese citizens. Many will land in Ecuador before making their way through the dangerous jungles of the Darien Gap in Panama.
Officials reported an uptick in Chinese nationals making the dangerous journey to the U.S., according to data from the Panamanian government.
The language barrier with the Chinese is a strain on agents in border cities, extending the processing times and straining resources. Border Patrol agents are already spread thin dealing with the ongoing migrant crisis and human smuggling cases in the region.