There has been a significant increase in apprehension of Chinese nationals trying to illegally cross the border in the Rio Grande Valley.

“As of late, Border Patrol agents are encountering Chinese nationals on a regular basis,” said Agent Dustin Araujo, Special Operations Supervisor for U.S. Border Patrol.

The highest number of Chinese immigrants apprehended recorded for the Rio Grande Valley is in Fiscal Year 2019.

“In Fiscal Year 2018, the Rio Grande Valley sector apprehended just over 700 Chinese nationals and in Fiscal Year 2019, that just ended in October, the RGV sector apprehended over 1,300 Chinese nationals,” said Araujo.

That’s more than an 85% increase in one year, of Chinese immigrants caught by Border Patrol for the RGV.

The biggest difference between Asian immigrants and Central and South immigrants, is their worth to the smugglers.

“The smugglers will profit more from smuggling Chinese nationals, compared to Mexican nationals or Central and South American migrants,” said Araujo.

Agents say another key difference is most Chinese immigrant do not want to get caught and rarely turn themselves in.

“We found them in stash houses, pursuits, just all over the sector,” said Araujo.

CBS 4 asked a Chinese political science expert what could be the cause of such increase.

“Given the current situation in Hong Kong, I think it has to do with political violence which has escalated lately,” said Dr. Xi Chen, who specializes in Chinese studies.

Dr. Xi Chen, originally from China, says many of the individuals crossing are likely seeking political asylum.

“People in Hong Kong have engaged in political protests for at least 5 months and it’s out of control, so it makes sense that people have to do look for an alternative with their future,” said Dr. Chen.

In fact, Wednesday morning, a pursuit in Palmview led to the arrest of two Chinese migrants being smuggled in by an American citizen.

Border Patrol says all nationalities are processed the same.