Terrorists are blending in with migrants entering Panama in an effort to get to the United States, according to Panama Minister of Foreign Affairs Erika Mouynes.
"Members of terrorist organizations and sanctioned parties have found their way into Panama, where they are not permitted to enter in the first place," Mouynes wrote for Foreign Policy magazine. "Panama's biometric identification measures have recognized and detained individuals linked to extremist groups attempting to pass through the country with migrants."
VP Kamala Harris, the designated Biden administration border czar, did not schedule a trip to Panama to address the root causes of migration in Central America, Mouynes lamented in an opinion piece titled "The (Literal) Gap in U.S. Migration Policy," with the subhead "Kamala Harris's recent trip to Latin America missed a brewing crisis in Panama's Darién region."
"Vice President Kamala Harris's recent trip to Central America — her first official mission abroad — is emblematic of the weight the White House has placed on the issue of migration," Mouynes wrote. "Unfortunately, however, Panama was left off the itinerary of her two-day trip, which included stops in Guatemala and Mexico. This despite the unprecedented number of migrants attempting to cross our border through a treacherous area of jungle known as the Darién Gap."
The minister noted the gap is a particularly vulnerable and dangerous place to migration.
"The problem of uncontrolled migration is not isolated to Texas, California, New Mexico, or Arizona," she wrote. "Farther south, on the Panamanian border, a parallel crisis is unfolding as unprecedented numbers of migrants from Haiti, Cuba, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East attempt to cross the Darién Gap en route to Canada and the United States.
"The situation here is not a uniquely North American or Panamanian problem. It is an international humanitarian crisis that knows no borders and requires immediate collaboration. Panama, for our part, looks forward to working closely with the Biden administration to formulate an effective policy response."
The gap is a place where vetting of visas is particularly suspect, she added.
"The nations of the Americas must work collaboratively to control the flow of migration," she continued.
"First among them is strengthening visa requirements and background checks throughout Latin America. A vast number of migrants crossing the Darién started their journey in South America, arriving through ports of entry in countries where visa requirements are less strict."
Panama's migration problems will ultimately become a problem for North America, she concluded.
"Left unchecked, this migrant issue will compound — and its ramifications will reach far beyond Panama’s borders," she wrote. "Even as Panama remains steadfast in its commitment to care for the migrants who have put themselves in our care — particularly those who are victims of human trafficking — the scale of the humanitarian crisis in our country and across the region demands international attention.
"We cannot single-handedly protect these migrants or address the underlying problems that have driven them into our borders. The situation will not be resolved if the international community continues to approach it as a U.S. problem or a Panama problem. In reality, it is everyone's problem."
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