Panama Sees Increase of U.S.-bound Illegal Immigration, Including Suspected Terrorists
With America focused on President Joe Biden’s failures at our southern border, little attention is given to how this crisis’s adverse effects are plaguing other countries. In February, the governments of Mexico and Guatemala heightened security at their borders to counter the large numbers of U.S.-bound economic migrants attempting to enter their respective nations. Now, the Biden administration’s open border policies have prompted Panama to take measures that combat the increasing flow of illegal entries into its borders.
According to the Panamanian news publication Critica.com.pa, authorities have apprehended more than 42,000 illegal aliens so far in 2021, breaking the previous record of 28,000 apprehensions set in 2016. Most apprehended migrants have been extra-continentals, originating from Haiti, Cuba, Venezuela, Africa, and South Asia. In addition, more than 10,000 migrants are waiting in Uraba, Colombia, to cross into Panama.
Foreign nationals have traversed through the Darien Gap, which spans Panama and Colombia, to gain entry and avoid border authorities. This unprecedented rise of unlawful migration into the Central American nation has spurred a meeting between Panamanian and Colombian security officials to address their shared border crisis. Panamanian Minister of Public Security Juan Manuel Pino said that 2021 would be a “crucial year” due to the surge of foreign nationals attempting to enter the United States.
The increase in illegal migration in Panama comes with national security concerns. The Minister of Security also confirmed the apprehensions of more than 60 foreign nationals with ties to terrorist organizations at their shared border with Colombia. The use of biometrics allowed Panama’s National Border Service to identify these individuals and their ties to extremist groups. This alarming information should elicit important questions: How many terrorists were able to avoid capture from authorities, and have they been able to enter the United States undetected as well?
Unfortunately, the apprehensions of terrorists is not exclusive to Panama. Law enforcement in neighboring Central American countries and Mexico have also apprehended known or suspected U.S.-bound terrorists at their respective borders. Moreover, extremist groups have had established networks across Central and South America for decades. It should come as no surprise that these same insurgents would attempt to make their way north when the Biden administration has loosened security along the southern border.
President Biden must re-implement sound border policies to fortify our national security. Fortunately, allied nations are taking the initiative and have captured many of these nefarious actors before they reached U.S. soil. However, it is incumbent on the Biden administration to turn off the magnets that attract these individuals. Otherwise, the United States and our southern neighbors will continue to be overwhelmed by unchecked migration.