Erika Mouynes, Panama’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, wrote a report on June 24, warning that her country has identified dangerous individuals trying to blend in with the thousands of immigrants entering Central America daily to reach the United States. The minister called on the Biden administration to seek a long-term solution.
According to Mouynes, immigrants coming from Haiti, Cuba, Africa, and the Middle East, use the Darien Gap—a path through a dangerous jungle that runs through Colombia and Panama, to begin their journey to the United States and Canada.
“The Darién jungle is one of the last untapped tropical forests in the Americas, stretching more than 60 miles from eastern Panama to northern Colombia. It is so dense that it interrupts the Pan-American Highway,” the minister explained.
“Is considered one of the most dangerous stretches of jungle in the world. Migrants often make the journey through the area without food, water, or protection from wild animals and human and drug traffickers,” she added.
Currently, 1,000 migrants a day enter Panama from Colombia, but only 50 to 100 pass through, she explains, thanks to the strict controls applied by her government.
“A vast number of migrants crossing the Darién started their journey in South America, arriving through ports of entry in countries where visa requirements are less strict,” Mouynes says.
“As a result, members of terrorist organizations and sanctioned parties have found their way into Panama, where they are not permitted to enter in the first place. Panama’s biometric identification measures have recognized, and detained individuals linked to extremist groups attempting to pass through the country with migrants,” the minister warned.
The official, while regretting that Vice President Kamala Harris did not visit Panama on her trip to Central America, urged the Biden administration to work together to seek a solution to reduce the flow of immigrants together with the other countries of South America, Central America, Canada, and the United States.
“The Panamanian government agrees with the Biden administration that the long-term solution to this uncontrolled and dangerous migration lies in addressing the root causes that compel people to leave their homes,” the minister said. “We look forward to collaborating with the United States and the countries of origin to combat violence and provide people with jobs, education, and security so they can prosper where they live.”
Although Harris said during her visit to the U.S–Mexico border that her focus was to target the ‘root’ of the immigration problem, to which the Panamanian minister referred, recent statements by senior Biden administration officials continue to encourage immigrants to return to the country.
An article published by the Marshall Project, a pro-immigration organization, titled ‘They were deported by Trump. Now Biden wants to bring them back’ says Biden will review thousands of deportations, allowing some immigrants to return to the United States.
“The officials say that many deportations, especially under President Trump, were unduly harsh” and that they “are working to devise a system” that will allow them to see who they can bring back into the country.
“The reviews will proceed on a painstaking case-by case basis, officials said. At least initially, only a very small fraction—perhaps thousands of more than 900,000 formal deportations under Trump could be reversed. But eventually, if the review system is effective, many more people could apply,” the article explains.
In the face of a clear open borders’ stance from the Biden administration, it is hard not to think that immigrants fleeing poverty in their countries end up being encouraged to risk their lives to enter the United States where the quality of life, even if they have nothing, is better than where they come from.