Federal documents show there was a sharp hike in the number of Chinese being smuggled into the United States across its border with Mexico, from 15 in Fiscal Year 2008 to 79 in Fiscal Year 2009, an increase of more than 500 percent.

The Chinese were among the 5,220 people in the “other-than-Mexican” category smuggled into the U.S. and apprehended during 2009, said documentation obtained by Judicial Watch from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency in the Department of Homeland Security.

“These statistics show that human smuggling continues to be a crisis on the nation’s southern border. And the problem is only going to get worse as a result of the Obama administration’s hostility to the strong enforcement of our nation’s immigration laws, especially in Arizona,” said Tom Fitton, the president of the organization that monitors Washington and investigates and prosecutes corruption.

According to a letter from Shari Suzuki, chief of the policy and litigation branch for Freedom of Information Act requests to the government, there were 70,328 people smuggled and apprehended in the Tucson district in 2009, down from 81,860 in 2008.

The federal agency said it “does not maintain estimates regarding the total number of persons that crossed the border without apprehension.”

Smugglers identified and arrested totaled 1,437 in 2008 and 963 in 2009. while the number of smugglers deported was 658 in 2009 and 599 in 2009.

The number of smugglers referred to the U.S. attorney’s office for prosecution totaled 10,333 in 2008 and grew to 17,452 in 2009.

The government report also cited a New York Times report from January that in 2009, there were 332 Chinese immigrants caught in the Tucson sector, up from 30 the previous year. But since the government’s report to Judicial Watch was a summary of information, not the actual reports or documents, discrepancies could not be checked.

“CBP documents also show significant increases were seen from Romania and Dominican Republic. The largest overall volume increase was Honduras, which went from 353 in FY2008 to 516 in FY2009,” Judicial Watch said.

The information came only after Judicial Watch challenged the agency’s statement that authorities did not maintain statistics related to human smuggling. The agency later admitted it could create human smuggling reports from a database run by Immigrations and Custom Enforcement.

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