Unusually high numbers of non-Latino immigrants are reportedly passing from Colombia through Panama on their way to the southern border with Mexico, seeking entry into the United States.
Government sources on both sides of Panama estimate at least 35,000 people are in the pipeline, from places such as Cameroon, Ghana, the Congo, Haiti, Cuba, and some from the Middle East, according to a report by the Center for Immigration Studies (ICS).
Word of successful entry of people from those places has clearly reached their home countries because now a massive swell of migrants are being funneled from South America to North America through the Darien Gap. The ICS report is based on eyewitness testimonies and government-released data.
One eyewitness report comes from author and freelance journalist Chuck Holton. He is based in Panama, and just visited the Colombian frontier town of Turbo, a notorious migrant staging area for U.S.-bound migrants looking to be smuggled through the Darien Gap passage into Panama.
Another eyewitness source is Diane Edrington, a Mississippi-based nurse practitioner who has worked for years at Panama missions that give aid to migrants. She just returned from camps on the Panama side of the Darien Gap.
Holton reportedly interviewed many migrants on the Colombian side who claimed they decided to “go to America, claim asylum, and take advantage of the disarray and laws about which they’ve all heard, from media reporting and those who already made it, that guarantee they will get to live and work for years in the United States, and probably stay permanently.”
Holton said he was repeatedly told by African migrants preparing to board boats to jungle trails for 10-day smuggler-led treks into Panama, that “Trump wants to keep us out, but he can’t do it.”
Holton told ICS, “They were very clear about that. ‘If I can get in now, I’m going to get while the getting’s good.’” He noted, “They have some level of understanding of what a sanctuary city is. ‘If we can get to one of those they won’t mess with us; They won’t get us out.'”
Migrants Holton spoke with knew how much time it takes for asylum claims to be processed and how severely backlogged American immigration systems are, saying this was a major factor in deciding to leave home.
“A lot of these guys obviously do not qualify for asylum,” Holton told ICS. “When they talk to me, they don’t have a problem telling me it’s for economic benefits, to get a better job, to have a better life.”
No matter, Holton said. By claiming asylum, “They know they’ll have to let them into the U.S. and that they can stay for at least three years” before any ruling on their claims is decided. “They’re very clear on that.”
The humanitarian crisis at the border generates many unprecedented and dangerous struggles, not the least of which is the struggle to meet the demand for resources that handling hundreds of thousands of migrants in a humane fashion takes.
An official working at the immigration detention center said on average they were receiving 1,500 new migrants per day (crossing border from Guatemala) and releasing about 500. pic.twitter.com/fyukcGiZE8
— Charlotte Cuthbertson (@charlottecuthbo) June 25, 2019
Customs and Border Patrol has repeatedly pointed out that the biggest threats from illegal immigration are national security issues. Many Middle Easterners come to the U.S.-Mexico border seeking asylum without any verifiable identification or with fake identities.
Less than two weeks ago, four men suspected of ties to ISIS were captured by Nicaraguan armed forces after entering Nicaragua illegally from Costa Rica, Reuters reported.
The identities of three men matched those wanted by U.S. Homeland Security Investigations. Those three were included in a warning about possible terrorists having recently arrived in Central America.
Nicaraguan police released a statement that two of the men are Egyptian and two are Iraqi.
One of the Iraqi men is believed to be a convicted murderer in Iraq who was supposed to be serving a life sentence, according to ICS investigations. The Iraqi man was carrying a genuine passport with his real name.
American intelligence agencies such as the FBI, CIA, ICE, and DIA work in alliance with intelligence agencies throughout the world, especially those of Iraq and Egypt, to determine if someone has ties to ISIS.
Register in Costa Rica
Panama and Costa Rica have created a system called “Controlled Flow.” It is a government-run assembly line charged with moving the thousands of migrants who are headed to the United States.
The flow travels from South America via Panama, through Nicaragua on buses, after providing housing, medical care, and temporary legal status.
ICS reports that thousands of migrants are from Muslim countries such as Iraq, Syria, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and 30 other countries of national security interest, like Egypt.
To take advantage of these smuggler-fee-saving travel benefits, migrants are encouraged to register with Panama and Costa Rica.
Biometrics are taken upon registering, such as fingerprints, eye-scans, and facial recognition photographs, which are then provided to American security agencies, making it easier for U.S. security agencies to catch dangerous migrants.