Panama warns another caravan of 60,000 Haitian migrants is headed for the US border through Mexico and says it has been sounding alarms to Biden for MONTHS
-Panamanian Foreign Minister Erika Mouynes made the remarks during a visit to DC this week
-She said that another 60,000 mostly Haitian migrants are likely headed toward the US border
-Mouynes said 85,000 migrants have passed through Panama so far this year, a huge increase
-She expressed frustration saying Panama has been warning leaders including Biden for months
-‘We’ve engaged with every single authority that we can think of,’ the exasperated Mouynes said

Panama’s foreign minister has warned that another wave of some 60,000 migrants, mostly Haitian nationals, is now headed toward the southern US border.

Foreign Minister Erika Mouynes expressed exasperation during a visit to Washington DC this week, saying that Panama has been warning the Biden administration for months about the recent surge in irregular migration.

‘We sounded the alarm when we should have,’ Mouynes told Axios. ‘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.”‘

In recent weeks, shocking scenes of human misery emerged from a squalid migrant camp near the border in Texas, which swelled to 15,000 at the height of the crisis, as the unprepared Border Patrol scrambled to stem the flow of illegal crossings.

Most of the Haitian migrants had been living in South American countries like Chile for years, but headed toward the US when they learned that President Joe Biden was halting deportations of Haitian nationals already in the country.

Traveling by land from South America, they must pass through the isthmus country of Panama, with many making the trek through the treacherous jungles of the Darien Gap.

Panama is expecting 27,000 more migrants to cross through the Darien Gap this month, more than were encountered in all of 2019.

‘Let’s recognize that they all are heading toward the US,’ said Mouynes, calling on the Biden administration to help enforce a coordinated strategy with countries across the region.

Mouynes said that more than 85,000 migrants have passed through Panama since January, most of them Haitians.

Roughly 20,000 to 25,000 Haitians have already reached the U.S.-Mexico border, with most being allowed to enter the United States. That leaves another 60,000 are most likely still on their way north, the minister said.

Panama is usually the first country to provide migrants humanitarian and medical assistance as they make their way north, Mouynes said.

‘When we receive them on the Panamanian side, they’re malnourished. The children are in terrible condition, so even getting them up to a healthy state takes time,’ the minister said.

Meanwhile, some 16,000 migrants are stuck in the northern Colombian beach town of Necocli, awaiting their turn on limited boat transport toward the Darien Gap, where smugglers guide groups through one of the most dangerous and impassable regions of Latin America.

The journey can be deadly. On Thursday, Panamanian officials buried a group of migrants who perished in the jungle, using a bulldozer to cover the mass grave.

Colombia and Panama agreed last month that 500 migrants could cross per day, but local officials have repeatedly urged them to raise the quota, saying it is far too low to keep pace with the up to 1,500 migrants who arrive in town daily.

Panama’s President Laurentino Cortizo told the United Nations General Assembly on Thursday that more than 80,000 irregular migrants have traveled through Panama this year. He called for international assistance, saying his country is spending its limited budget on migrant care.

So far this year, 88,514 migrants have entered Panama through the Darien jungle, according to figures from the National Migration Service, and Panama went from receiving an average of 800 migrants in January to 30,000 in August.

US Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas reportedly asked his officials whether the department was ready to handle the possibility of up to 400,000 migrants, nearly double the 21-year high seen in July, crossing the southern border in October.

Despite public attempts to appear in control of the situation at the southwest border, a phone call between Mayorkas and senior officials earlier this week shows a Biden administration scrambling to contain a growing crisis.

Mayorkas asked on the call if the border was ready for a worst-case scenario of 350,000 to 400,000 migrants crossing the border next month, two DHS officials told NBC.

Even the lower estimate would be record breaking, but 400,000 border crossings is nearly double the 21-year high hit in July of 210,000. August saw more than 208,000 encounters at the southwestern border.
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