Social Issues

Venezuelan migrants to be shifted out of Panama’s capital

Panama City, Nov 25 (EFE).- Undocumented Venezuelan migrants, putting up at a temporary shelter in Panama City, would be shifted to a facility for migrants near the border with Costa Rica, officials announced on Friday.

Samira Gozaine, director of Panama’s National Migration Service, said the Venezuelan diplomatic mission, which had set up the refuge with no major facilities had already ended its stay at the temporary shelter Viejo Veranillo.

“We have our refuge at Planes de Gualaca, which is where we are taking (the migrants from Venezuela),” Gozaine said.

A statement from Panama’s national migration service indicated that the objective of transferring the undocumented migrants was “to provide these people with a suitable place where they can stay flying home, taking advantage of the voluntary withdrawal from Panamanian territory.”

The Venezuelan embassy built the shelter in October to house those irregular migrants who voluntarily opted to return home after the United States imposed a new immigration policy that left them with little chance to enter that country.

On Oct.12, President Joe Biden’s administration announced that the Venezuelans who arrived at the border would be sent back to Mexico immediately after being detained.

The White House move was to tackle a dramatic increase in irregular migration from Venezuela in recent years and marks an expansion of Title 42, a US pandemic-related policy that has allowed border agents to expel migrants to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

Before that, Venezuelans had been encouraged to make the long journey to the US, secure in the knowledge that the lack of formal diplomatic relations between their leftist-led homeland and Washington meant they could not be deported quickly.

According to official figures provided to Efe, a record number of more than 220,000 undocumented migrants have traveled through Panama this year.

Gozaine did not specify the number of migrants at the temporary shelter on Friday.

The refuge housed more than 1,000 people weeks ago.

According to official Panamanian data, more than 4,000 irregular Venezuelan migrants returned to their country voluntarily in recent weeks.

Panama receives undocumented migrants at migration reception facilities, where it gathers data and provides food and health services, in a one-of-a-kind program on the continent that has cost at least $50 million since 2020, per government data. EFE


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