China refuses to take back thousands of Chinese citizens stranded in the U.S. illegally, many of whom have committed violent crimes, the South China Morning Post reported on Friday.
As many as tens of thousands of Chinese nationals are currently stuck in the U.S. because China refuses to repatriate them. In 2015, U.S. immigration authorities estimated that 38,000 Chinese citizens were awaiting deportation, 900 people among them classified as violent offenders.
While many of the people awaiting deportation to China have committed serious crimes, others are guilty of lesser infractions, such as overstaying their visas or breaking traffic laws, according to the report.
International immigration rules stipulate that recipient countries must approve all arrivals, including their own citizens. Under these rules, airlines may deny boarding access to passengers without proper documentation. According to the SCMP, China often refuses the arrival of its own citizens, claiming that their immigrant documents are “insufficient,” their passports are “counterfeit,” or that those involved simply are not Chinese.
For its failure to cooperate with the deportation process, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has labeled China “recalcitrant.” The department has assigned this label to other obstinate countries and special regions who refuse to repatriate their own citizens, among them Iran, Pakistan, Cuba, and Eritrea.
U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration has redoubled efforts to persuade “recalcitrant” nations to take back their citizens after previous administrations failed to make headway on the issue. In a strategy report released last month, the U.S. accused China of breaking its international commitments and “creating security risks for American communities” by not repatriating its citizens stranded in the U.S. illegally, many of whom are violent offenders.