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Panama has unveiled a new strategy to handle the escalating numbers of migrants traversing the Darien Gap jungle, which borders Colombia.
To manage the unprecedented number of migrant crossings, Panama is stepping up its border controls, as announced in a recent press conference by immigration officials. The record number of individuals crossing the dangerous Darien Gap region reached an all-time high this year, with 352,000 crossings noted as of September 8, a significant increase from the 250,000 recorded throughout 2022.
To curb this influx, the authorities have decided to amplify the number of deportation flights for irregular migrants holding criminal records, a move orchestrated with the assistance of the security ministry. The chief of Panama’s immigration institute, Samira Gozaine, confirmed that the deportation flights for these individuals would now be doubled.
A crucial part of the new measures is the reduction in the permissible stay duration for certain tourists, reducing it from 90 days to a mere 15 days. Additionally, people intending to stay for 90 days will now be mandated to demonstrate financial stability by showcasing proof of funds amounting to at least $1,000, which is twice the previously required amount of $500. This strategy is aimed at enhancing the financial thresholds at the nation’s checkpoints to maintain better control over the migration dynamics.
As Panama grapples with a migrant surge, the United Nations predicts that the annual crossings through this jungle region might exceed 400,000 people by the end of the year.