Panama Learns that Repatriations of Migrants Will Start in the Coming Weeks

1,157Views 0Comments Posted 06/07/2024

José Raúl Mulino has vowed to close the dangerous migration route through the Darien Gap between Colombia and Panama, and announced after he was sworn in that his country would no longer be a migrant “transit” point.  Mulino said Panama “cannot continue to finance the economic cost of illegal migration.”  After the inauguration ceremony, Panama signed an agreement with the US top border official, Alejandro Mayorkas that pledges US funding for migrant repatriation, a move that Washington hopes will deter irregular crossings across its southern border.  The US State Department Deputy Assistant Secretary for Central America Eric Jacobstein told reporters in a teleconference from Washington that repatriations would start “in the coming weeks.”  He did not say from where the repatriation flights would depart, or their destination. 


Under the agreement, the United States would allocate $6 million for repatriations, including purchasing plane tickets.  The Darien Gap between Colombia and Panama has become a key corridor for migrants heading from South America through Central America and crossing in Mexico with hopes of reaching the United States and a chance at a better life. Despite facing dense jungle, treacherous terrain, wild animals and violent criminal gangs, more than half a million undocumented migrants passed through the Darien last year.  Migration is a key campaign issue ahead of US presidential elections in November. Democrats last month issued an order to shut down the border to asylum seekers once daily limits are hit.  US National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson said “By returning such individuals to their country of origin, we will help deter irregular migration in the region and at our Southern border and halt the enrichment of malign smuggling networks that prey on vulnerable migrants.”