Panama Foreign Minister Erika Mouynes, on Wednesday, Sept. 29, said the influx of illegal migrants at the U.S. border has far from ended.
While the U.S. was feeling some relief from dealing with about 30,000 illegal migrants of mostly Haitian nationals appearing on the U.S. border in recent weeks, Mouynes broke the news that the issue was far from being subdued.
“We sounded the alarm when we should have,” she said in an interview with Axios.
Earlier this month, her administration had informed the White House about the most recent migration wave, which resulted in nearly 15,000 individuals gathered under a bridge in Del Rio, Texas, Mouynes told the outlet.
The sudden migrant cramp under the International Bridge in Del Rio was considered under control last Friday, Aug. 24. But the Panama minister was not optimistic about what to expect in the future.
According to the minister, since January, her country has encountered more than 85,000 migrants, and all were aiming for the U.S., with a majority of them being Haitians.
While some 15,000 Haitians were flown back to their country, Mouynes anticipated more than 60,000 others were still on their way to the U.S., urging a quick preparation.
“We’ve engaged with every single authority that we can think of, that we can come across, to say, ‘Please, let’s pay attention to this,'” she said, calling for the U.S. to work with other countries to respond to the issue.
“We all have a role to play in this issue, and the regional approach is the correct approach. It is impossible for Panama to solve it on its own,” she stated.
Haitians were leaving their country over a series of plights, from political instability after their president’s assassination, destructive earthquakes, gang crimes, hunger, and poverty.
Panama has begun a migrant quota system in collaboration with its two closest neighbors, Columbia and Costa Rica, Mouynes told Axios. She stressed that other South American countries need to implement similar methods to keep migrant numbers under control.
A chaotic illegal migrant situation would make it harder for officials to manage criminals and smugglers crossing the U.S. between asylum seekers. It would be no less challenging to ensure acceptable quality for those being kept in custody.
Illegal migrants are not screened for COVID-19 either unless they show symptoms. The Border Patrol said it could not afford time and space to conduct such a procedure at crowded processing stations.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said that outside of those being deported back to Haiti, some 8,000 had returned “voluntarily” to Mexico. At the same time, another 4,000 were being processed for deportation or removal by DHS, according to The New York Post.
DHS chief Alejandro Mayorkas announced earlier this week that an immigration judge would consider the cases of 13,000 Haitian migrants from the latest surge, 10,000 of whom had been allowed to enter the U.S.