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Mexico Deports First Group of Undocumented Chinese Immigrants

May 17, 1993

MEXICALI, Mexico (AP) _ More than 150 undocumented Chinese immigrants were put on a jet back to China, including some who joined a mass weekend escape only to be recaptured in the Baja California desert.

About 300 Chinese immigrants - all men - were being detained pending deportation at the Mexicali airport, about a mile and a half south of the U.S. border, when a group of 200 or so broke out Friday night.

Mexican authorities quickly found 58 of the escapees, who were put on a jet that left Saturday with the others who had not gotten away. Notimex, the official Mexican news agency, said 158 undocumented Chinese were aboard the jetliner.

The jet was scheduled to stop in the Bahamas, Iceland and India en route to China. Mexicans of Chinese heritage and Mexican immigration agents accompanied the group to ensure that their repatriation went smoothly, the Interior Ministry told Notimex in a statement.

Meanwhile, U.S. Border Patrol agents arrested 106 of the escapees. All but nine juveniles were taken to an immigration detention center in San Pedro, Calif., where they may be released on bond pending hearings into their status.

None had asked for asylum, but that ″may come later in the process,″ said Paul Villanueva, assistant chief of the Border Patrol office in El Centro, Calif.

The juveniles were taken to another detention center where they face special hearings, he said.

Mexican officials said the 40 escapees still at large were probably hiding within Mexicali’s large Chinese community.

Mexican immigration officials found the Chinese last month in a house in Ensenada, about 60 miles south of the U.S. border. They were believed to be part of a recent wave of Chinese who pay smugglers up to $30,000 - and endure long ocean crossings - to sneak into Mexico or the United States.

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