The illegal immigrants come seeking higher wages, steady employment and a chance at better lives for their families. They cross the border in remote stretches where there are no fences or they pay traffickers to sneak them past border guards.

Then they work as maids, harvest crops or toil hunched in sweatshops.

Think you’ve heard this¬†story before? No, it’s not illegal Mexican immigrants coming into the United States, but Southeast Asian, North Korean, and African illegal immigrants coming into China. If you think our border problem is daunting, consider that China’s mostly unprotected border stretches 13,670 miles across rain forests, mountains, and deserts.

According to the article, from the L.A. Times, the demand for foreign labor comes from rising Chinese wages and a shortage of low-skilled workers, and those willing to do harder field work at profitable pay. For instance:

Chinese farmer Lu Qixue hires Vietnamese laborers before the autumn sugar cane harvest. For as long as five grueling months, the foreign workers put in 10-hour days thwacking sugar cane stalks with scythes.

“They work slowly and we always have to train them, but we can’t find enough skilled Chinese,” said Lu, a rail-thin 58-year-old village chief with gravelly stubble. “If we don’t hire the Vietnamese we won’t be able to grow as much.”

“I don’t want to carry sugar cane down the mountain,” said his youngest son, Lu Xinghuan, 26, who aspires to own a trucking company. “It’s hard work.”

Labor activists said the increasing use of undocumented foreigners is undermining gains made with China’s 2008 labor law regulating working hours and workplace conditions.

For those who oppose more immigration and want to crack down on illegals, I am curious if they think that welfare would be increased in this scenario by preventing the vietnamese workers from coming into the country, and thus decreasing the output of the cane farmer and his wealth and spending power. I suspect people will be more sympathetic to illegal immigration into China than they are with illegal immigrants into this country.

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