Biden administration announces agreement with Panama and Colombia to curb illegal immigration through the Darién

Representatives from the three countries say the initiative seeks to "open new lawful and flexible pathways for tens of thousands of migrants and refugees as an alternative to irregular migration.”

The Biden administration announced the launch of a trilateral 60-day campaign with Panama and Colombia to stop illegal immigration through the Darién jungle:

Recognizing our shared interest and responsibility to prevent the risk to human life, disrupt transnational criminal organizations, and preserve the vital rainforest, the governments of Panamá, Colombia, and the United States intend to carry out a two-month coordinated campaign to address the serious humanitarian situation in the Darién.

Meeting between Colombia, U.S. and Panama

Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas spoke with the heads of foreign affairs and security of Panama and Colombia in a joint meeting. There they discussed the measures to be taken to stop the transit of illegal people and goods through the Darién.

No details were provided as to how the target will be reached. In a joint communiqué, the representatives of the three countries said that the initiative seeks to "open new lawful and flexible pathways for tens of thousands of migrants and refugees as an alternative to irregular migration," and stressed that this movement of people through the jungle "leads to death and exploitation of vulnerable people for significant profit."

This is the first time that the three countries have undertaken a collaborative initiative at this level to work together on migration security issues.

Nearly 90,000 illegal immigrants transited through the Darién and the end of Title 42

The Darién is a dangerous jungle that is a known migration route for thousands of illegals to reach the U.S. border. In the last three months, about 90,000 migrants passed through this area. This has generated growing concern for the safety and well-being of these people, mostly Venezuelans, Haitians and Ecuadorians.

The Biden administration's announcement comes one month before the end of Title 42, a measure that restricts the entry of immigrants into the United States through the southern border.

U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas stated that governments must “do everything possible to stop human smugglers and traffickers from taking advantage of people who are seeking to enter the United States between ports of entry.” 

On behalf of the Panamanian government, Minister of Foreign Affairs Janaina Tewaney Mencomo stated that they are seeking to create “a call for attention for the implementation of regional actions to comprehensively address this situation.”