Washington, Nov 20 (EFE). – A group of United States officials will travel to Panama to work with the Central American country’s authorities in processing migrant applications, US government sources confirmed.
Specifically, the administration of Joe Biden will launch a six-month pilot program to assist Panama in reviewing the applications of migrants arriving in the country and deporting those who do not meet the requirements to stay.
The deportees will be those who “do not need international protection or other legal requirements” to remain in Panama, a Foreign Ministry spokesman told EFE.
The team of officials will be made up of workers from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of State.
The US authorities will also help the Panamanian government obtain funding to strengthen its deportation operations, according to media reports.
There is no date for the start of the visit, the media reported, and the signing of an agreement between Washington and Panama, one of the main transit countries on the migratory route to the United States, is still pending.
The measure is part of the Joe Biden administration’s attempts to stem the flow at the southern border with Mexico, which has reached record numbers this year, with more than two million apprehensions by the Border Patrol.
Just last week, as part of its sanctions against Venezuela, the US extended a license that allows the Venezuelan airline Conviasa to operate repatriation flights from countries in the region to Caracas.
So far this year, more than 400,000 people have entered Panama through the Darién jungle, which serves as a natural border with Colombia, demonstrating the scale of the current migration crisis in the region.
According to a report by Human Rights Watch, movement restrictions imposed by the governments of the Americas and promoted by the United States have forced thousands of people to take more dangerous routes, including the Darien crossing.
The vast majority of people crossing from Colombia to Panama are from Venezuela, the country with the largest humanitarian crisis on the continent, with more than seven million people who have left the country in recent years, according to data from governments and agencies of the United Nations Organization.
In response, more than 20 countries on the continent, including the US, Mexico and Panama, have imposed visa requirements on Venezuelans, leading to an increase in irregular land crossings into US territory.
The Biden administration has also taken steps specifically aimed at restricting Venezuelan migration across the border, most recently resuming deportation flights to Caracas. EFE