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Panama Elects President Vowing Shutdown Of Key Routes To US Used By Over Half A Million Migrants


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From the Daily Caller News Foundation



A tiny Central American country’s new president-elect is vowing to shut down a key corridor heavily used by migrants to enter the U.S.

Panamanian voters on Sunday elected center-right candidate Jose Raul Mulino as their new leader. The president-elect has notably vowed to shut down the trails used by hundreds of thousands of illegal migrants that run through the Darien Gap, a vast jungle region that sits across the Panama-Colombia border, and return them back to their home countries.

The 64-year-old lawyer was elected on a largely conservative platform, pledging to run a pro-private enterprise, pro-investment government and a crackdown on drug cartels, according to Bloomberg.

“The border of the United States, instead of being in Texas, moved to Panama,” Mulino said on the campaign trail, according to the Guardian. “We’re going to close the Darien and we’re going to repatriate all these people.”

Panama has served as a pivotal transit country for migrants beginning their journey in South America. More than half a million migrants crossed the Darien Gap en route to the U.S. in 2023, according to the Council on Foreign Relations.

That number was double the nearly 250,000 migrants that crossed in 2022 and a significant increase from the few hundred who would cross annually a decade prior. While most of the migrants that cross the Darien Gap are Venezuelan nationals, others come from Ecuador, Haiti and also Africa and Asian countries.

With more than 90% of the votes tallied, Mulino held roughly 34% of the vote, a clear plurality over the 25% carried by nearest rival Ricardo Lombana, according to Bloomberg, and he is now due to assume office on July 1.

The number of illegal immigrants crossing the Darien Gap is expected to beat last year’s record, Juan Pappier, the Americas deputy director at Human Rights Watch, said to the Guardian. Given the first few months, the number could be as high as 700,000 or even reach 800,000 in 2024.

Mulino’s presidential victory and vow to close the gap are happening as the U.S. is months out from a presidential election, where illegal immigration has become a top concern among voters. The U.S.-Mexico border has experienced record-setting illegal migration under the current administration.

Since President Joe Biden took office, at least 6 million encounters have taken place at the southern border.

It remains to be seen how Mulino can effectively stop the flow of migrants through Panama.

Pappier framed the idea of shutting down the Darien Gap to be “virtually impossible“, given the rough terrain and dangerous drug cartels that have a presence in the region, according to the GuardianOther experts have questioned whether Mulino is simply saying something American leaders want to hear, given the relative indifference Panamanian citizens actually have for irregular migration at the moment.

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illegal immigration

Biden’s U-Turn On Deporting Illegal Immigrants Will Last Only Until Election Day

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As published July 12, 2024 by The Federalist

The Biden administration knows a deportation airlift will serve the self-interest of winning reelection on Nov. 5 if done at scale.

In both my books on the border, I offer the same remedy for halting the multinational onslaught of immigrant strangers transiting the infamous “Darien Gap” between Colombia and Panama en route to the besieged southwest U.S. border.

The Darien Gap passageway is a jungled 70-mile bottleneck of wilderness and foot trails, through which an estimated 1.5 million of more than 10 million illegal immigrants from around the world have crossed the U.S. border in the past three years. An American government that really wants to shutter the passage must fund a large-scale deportation airlift from Panama, Colombia, Costa Rica, and Mexico all at once, I advised in my 2021 book, America’s Covert Border War, The Untold Story of The Nation’s Battle to Prevent Jihadist Infiltration.

“The United States should demand that these countries … install a U.S.-funded infrastructure that would fly all immigrants to origin countries anywhere in the world, on national security grounds,” I again recommended in a second 2023 book, Overrun: How Joe Biden Unleashed the Greatest Border Crisis in U.S. History.

No Republican border hawk ever took my homeland security-bolstering recommendation seriously, as I had hoped.

But to my very great surprise, the most mass-migration-friendly administration in American history, Joe Biden’s, the one that has widened the Darien Gap passage from a mere country lane into a superhighway, has now announced  that it will be the one to put my deportation airlift idea into action, at least in Panama.

Not because the Democrat administration ran with my idea or that I’m some sort of policy genius, but because the administration knows a deportation airlift will serve the self-interest of winning reelection on Nov. 5 if done at scale, and because this remedy was obvious to just about anyone with a brain.

“United States Signs Arrangement with Panama to Implement Removal Flight Program,” reads the headline of the Department of Homeland Security’s July 1, 2024, announcement. Details remain scant, but the statement goes on to quote Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas saying that his new partnership with Panama will “manage the historic levels of migration” pouring over the U.S. border for three years.

The Darien Gap passage is a major contributing gusher in the worst mass migration crisis in U.S. history, funneling millions of illegal immigrants through an unlocked turnstile to find their forever homes. Whereas fewer than 20,000 economic immigrants per year ever passed through the Colombia-Panama passage before Biden policies unleashed the current mass migration on inauguration day of 2021, 250,000 passed through it in 2022, 520,000 last year, and a projected 800,000 by the end of 2024.

National Security Threat

The multinational diversity of those passing through the gap from more than 160 nations is a unique affront to U.S. national interests, as border crossers may include Islamic terrorists from Muslim-majority nations, human rights violators from Africa, and spies from adversarial nations such as Russia and China.

Terrorists, spies, and warlords are of little concern to the Biden administration. It has only ever orchestrated the conversion of the Darien Gap into the world’s most trammeled immigrant thruway under its lenient “safe, orderly, and humane” immigration policies.

So the Biden administration’s deportation airlift plan constitutes a stunning, 180-degree policy U-turn.

In 2022, for instance, Mayorkas and Secretary of State Antony Blinken pressured the Panamanian government to open a shorter sea and river route, built larger and new hospitality rest camps to accommodate the increase, and arranged for dozens of United Nations and nonprofit migrant advocacy groups to provide all manner of aid and assistance. These moves induced hundreds of thousands more border crossers per year to make the trip.

Now, the Biden administration will replace its “safe, orderly and humane” mantra of just five minutes ago with the new “safe, humane repatriation” one. Why a deportation airlift, and why now?

Election Concerns

The short answer is that the administration needs to slow the southern border flow to help it keep the White House in the Democrat Party’s hands.

The party well knows polls regularly show that voters regard Biden’s three-year-long mass migration border crisis as an apex-level problem for which they’ll punish him and reward Donald Trump in the upcoming presidential election.

The campaign wants controls in place to reduce anticipated desperate last-chance border rushes as Election Day approaches — immigrants will want to reach the American border before a possibly victorious Donald Trump slams the gates shut.

Panama’s New Approach

And just when it needed a solution most, the administration lucked into a most unexpected damage-control opportunity: Panama elected President Jose Raul Mulino on his keynote promise to “close” the Darien Gap and to get the U.S. to help pay for repatriation flights.

“The border of the United States, instead of being in Texas, moved to Panama,” said Mulino, who served as security minister under former president Ricardo Martinelli. “We’re going to repatriate all those people.”

That’s a major U-turn for Panama. For years, the Panamanian government employed “controlled flow” policy bus trips that transported immigrants exiting the Darien Gap toward the American border.

“I won’t allow Panama to be an open path for thousands of people who enter our country illegally, supported by an international organization [the United Nations] related to drug trafficking and human trafficking,” Mulino said at his July 1 swearing-in, attended by Mayorkas. He appears to be serious. For the first time, Panama is already stringing barbed wire to block the major trails, NBC News reports.

Mayorkas jumped at the opportunity to help Mulino — at least during the period of anticipated surges just before the election.

The number of illegal crossings along the southern border will surely drop sharply if the U.S.-Panama deal works out, an almost certain boon to the Biden campaign that they will repeatedly claim as an achievement — until Nov. 5.

This isn’t the Biden campaign’s first such move to suppress expected preelection surges and to claim the positive result to diminish those terrible polling numbers on illegal immigration for immediate political advantage.

Mexico Acts

After record crossings last fall (all-time records of 10,000-14,000 per day) produced terrible polls, Biden paid an official state visit to Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez-Obrador in Mexico City to discuss the torrential immigration flows. Mayorkas and Blinken followed up after Christmas.

Almost immediately, as I was the first and only one to report for many months, on Jan. 17, Lopez-Obrador deployed 35,000 regular army troops, who began rounding up tens of thousands of illegal immigrants in relentless sweeps of northern border towns. The Mexicans forced them onto planes and buses. They were shipped 1,500 miles south and entrapped in southern provinces behind militarized roadblocks and bureaucracy. Crossings fell by as much as 80 percent initially.

That wasn’t all the Mexicans did, but the resulting illegal crossings slowdown became as immediately apparent as the Biden administration’s ability to have had Mexico do this at any time during the three-year mass migration cataclysm.

President Biden and his deputies have been emphasizing the decline ever since, including during the otherwise disastrous televised debate with Trump.

Look for much more noisy political messaging about even more declines if the Darien Gap closure further reduces the flow at the U.S. border, as it very well might.

A Biden Reelection Would Revert to Lack of Enforcement

But all of this is a paper tiger. No one should expect the Biden administration, should it win the election, to sustain the Mexico or Darien Gap crackdowns beyond Nov. 5. Their leftist wing engineered the whole crisis from the beginning because they believe in unimpeded migration and disdain enforcement, as I explain elaborately in Overrun.

If the Democrats win the White House, look for them to develop new diplomatic “beefs” with President Mulino, ala Hungary’s Viktor Orban, as an excuse to shutter U.S. funding for any deportation airlift.

But there’s a silver lining for border hawks here. If Trump wins, he can build mightily on the preparations that Biden’s campaign managers are beginning now.

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EXCLUSIVE: Jim Jordan Investigating UN’s Involvement In ‘Fast-Tracking’ Migrants Into US

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From the Daily Caller News Foundation



House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan is investigating how the United Nations is working with the Biden administration to “fast-track” thousands of migrants into the United States as the country reels from the ongoing border crisis.

Jordan demanded the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM), which are each part of the UN, hand over documents showing how they have coordinated with the Biden administration to resettle thousands of foreign nationals into the U.S., according to two letters obtained by the Daily Caller News Foundation on Thursday. Both the UNHCR and the IOM work with the State Department to resettle migrants into the U.S. via the Safe Mobility Offices, an initiative launched by the Biden administration.

The letter argued that the agencies took advantage of “illegal” immigration pathways created by the Biden administration, such as abuse of the parole system.

“Despite an unprecedented border crisis and the Biden Administration’s release of millions of illegal aliens into the United States, the Administration continues to create additional unlawful avenues to fast-track even more arrivals into the country,” the letter to UNHCR stated.

The letters to the UNHCR and IOM requested all communications the two organizations have had with the State Department and other offices regarding the Safe Mobility Offices initiative, as well as the amount of funding they’ve devoted to the initiative and other relative documentation. California Republican Rep. Tom McClintock co-signed the letters.

“Under President Biden, the State Department has announced its Safe Mobility Offices initiative, which allows illegal aliens to bypass the southwest border and, according to UNHCR, ‘avoid the risks associated with onward movement,’” the letter continued. “In other words, this new program fast-tracks aliens into the United States out of sight of the American people and without public transparency of the chaos at the border,” the letter continued.

Launched by the Biden administration in 2023, the Safe Mobility Offices initiative is a collection of processing centers in Latin America and elsewhere that give foreign nationals the opportunity to apply to migrate legally into the U.S., according to the State Department. Noncitizens are given different avenues for getting into the country, including through refugee resettlement, work visa programs, family visa programs or humanitarian parole.

“Far from simply expanding the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program, Safe Mobility Offices give aliens outside the United States ‘several options’ to resettle in the United States, including through ‘family reunification, labor pathways,’ and expansion of the Biden Administration’s illegal abuses of humanitarian parole,” the letter stated.

UNHCR and IOM have both worked on outreach to foreign nationals about the initiative — while enjoying major funding from the American taxpayer. The U.S. doled out $1.9 billion in funding to UNHCR last year and gave $16 million in funds to IOM last year, according to the letters.

Over 21,000 individuals had been approved to resettle legally into the U.S. via the Safe Mobility Offices in Ecuador, Colombia, Costa Rica and Guatemala, according to Jordan’s office. By mid-April, the Safe Mobility Offices had already reached roughly 170,00 foreign nationals and conducted more than 33,000 refugee interviews.

Due to the significant number of migrants being facilitated through this initiative — and despite the country already facing financial and logistical strain over the refugee crisis emanating from the southern border — Jordan is demanding transparency.

The letters were addressed to UNHCR Commissioner Filippo Grandi and IOM Director General Amy Pope. Neither office immediately responded to a request for comment from the DCNF.

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