US Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrives in Panama on Tuesday to meet with representatives from 20 Latin American nations and address the growing challenge of irregular migration on the continent and support for countries that host migrants and refugees.
The new meeting will lay the foundations for a regional agreement that will be debated during the Summit of the Americas to be held in Los Angeles in June and takes place at a time when the Joe Biden government seeks to address irregular migration under an approach in which The causes that force people to leave their countries are also addressed.
It also occurs while an increase in the arrival of migrants seeking to enter and request asylum in the United States is expected due to the imminent expiration of a public health order that allowed US authorities to return most migrants, including people who applied for asylum. asylum for persecution.
The number of migrants trying to cross the southern border of the United States is on the rise. The immigration authorities of that country detained migrants 221,303 times at the border with Mexico during March, an increase of 33% compared to the previous month and the largest increase in the last two decades, according to data from the Office of Customs and Border Protection ( CBP, for its initials in English) released on Monday.
Countries agree that political instability, the absence of strong institutions, corruption, insecurity and lack of opportunities – and more recently the coronavirus pandemic – are the causes of massive regional migration.
The United States considers Panama – which serves as transit each year for thousands of migrants heading to North America – a key ally to face part of the phenomenon.
After his arrival on Monday for the meeting in Panama, the Secretary of National Security of the United States, Alejandro Mayorkas, visited a migrant reception center in Darién, where the Panamanian authorities explained to him the treatment given to foreigners after cross the dangerous jungle on the Colombian-Panamanian border.
On Tuesday and prior to Blinken’s arrival, Mayorkas and his collaborators met with their security peers from Panama, to which the United States injects strong support to guard its difficult southern border.
For the Minister of Security of Panama, Juan Pino, the response to the migratory phenomenon must be a joint effort between the governments of the countries of origin, transit and destination. “It is something that we have to agree to multilaterally in order to contain and handle migration humanely,” he said before meeting with Mayorkas.
Through the Darién jungle in Panama alone, 134,000 migrants, mainly Haitians, transited to the United States during 2021, the largest number on record. This flow – which also includes migrants from Asia and Africa – already reaches more than 16,000 so far in 2022, with a notable increase in the crossing of Venezuelans, according to figures from the Panamanian authorities.
Another of the largest migratory flows to North America is from the Northern Triangle of Central America, made up of El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala.