Stef W. Knight, Axios, September 30, 2021
Panama foreign minister Erika Mouynes expressed frustration to Axios that the Biden administration seemed caught off guard by the Haitian migrant crisis because “we sounded the alarm when we should have.”
Why it matters: The worst may still be coming. Mouynes said there are as many as 60,000 migrants — mostly Haitian — poised to make their way north to the U.S.-Mexico border.
- Panama is expecting more migrants to cross through the dangerous jungles of the Darién Gap this month than in all of 2019 — nearly 27,000, according to Panamanian government estimates provided to Axios.
- Mouynes is calling on the U.S. to help enforce a plan coordinated with countries in the region, saying, ultimately, “Let’s recognize that they all are heading toward the U.S.”
Mouynes expressed her exasperation to Axios after spending months warning leaders across the hemisphere of the impeding Haitian wave.
By the numbers: More than 85,000 migrants have passed through Panama since January — most of them Haitians.
- Roughly 20,000 to 25,000 Haitians have already made the trek to the U.S.-Mexico border, with most being allowed to enter the United States.
- Beyond those already admitted or deported back to Haiti, another 60,000 are most likely still on their way north, the minister said.
What to watch: Pro-migration messaging from the U.S. and some South American nations has played a role in the uptick in people moving north.
- It’s unclear whether the Biden administration’s recent emphasis on deportations of thousands of Haitians, and Mayorkas’ own warnings about not being admitted to the United States, will change anything.
- Mouynes said Mayorkas asked for her assessment of that messaging during their meeting this week.