As many as 60,000 more migrants, mostly Haitians, are headed for the U.S. southern border, according to Panama Foreign Minister Erika Mouynes, who was exasperated that the Biden administration seemingly ignored her country’s warnings for months about the last wave that ended up under a bridge in Del Rio, Texas.
“We sounded the alarm when we should have,” Mouynes told Axios. On Tuesday, she concluded two days of meetings in Washington with Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.
“We’ve engaged with every single authority that we can think of, that we can come across, to say, ‘Please, let’s pay attention to this.'”
DHS did not immediately responded to.Axios’ request for comment.
Mouynes said Panama is expecting more migrants to traverse the Darien Gap — a nearly impenetrable 60-mile jungle expanse on the border between Colombia and Panama — this month than did in all of 2019, when 27,000 made the journey, according to Panama’s estimates.
Mouynes pleaded with Majorkas to enforce a coordinated plan with the countries in the area to stem the flood.
“Let’s recognize that they all are heading toward the U.S.,” she said.
More than 85,000 migrants — mostly Haitians — have passed through Panama since January, with 20,000 to 25,000 making their way to the U.S.-Mexico border and most of them being allowed to enter the United States, according to Axios.
Panama is often the first stop for many of the migrants after moving through Peru and Colombia. They stop there for food, shelter and medical attention.
”When we receive them on the Panamanian side, they’re malnourished,” Mouynes said. ”The children are in terrible condition, so even getting them up to a healthy state takes time.”
Officials from the United States, Mexico, Canada, Mexico and South America met for the first time in August to discuss the waves of migrants, a revelation Mouynes called ”shocking.”
Officials from Latin American countries in August devised plans to control the flood, preventing charter planes from landing in countries with migrants and imposing quotas at borders in the transit countries.
Panama has a deal with Costa Rica to limit the number of migrants it releases to its neighbor and likewise has a similar one with Colombia.
Colombia has 30,000 migrants it’s prohibiting to cross into Panama and is “frustrated” that Panama cannot take more, Mouynes said.
The plan “needs to turn back toward their other neighbors — to Peru, to Brazil,” she said.
The Biden administration has been bedeviled by record numbers of border crossers since his term began in January. Far from letting up, the flow may be about to become a torrent.
Indeed, the administration is preparing for a record number of new migrants arriuving at the at the southern border, up to 400,000 people, said one report from NBC News.
Officials tie the anticipated increase in traffic to a judge’s recent order rescinding policies identified as Title 42 — implemented by President Donald Trump to keep migrants seeking refugee status out of the U.S.
Biden is appealing the ruling and may take it to the nation’s highest court, reports say.