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Panama President-Elect Set to Shut Down Migrant Crossing Route Into the Southern Border

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Panama President-Elect Set to Shut Down Migrant Crossing Route Into the Southern Border

Panama President-Elect Set to Shut Down Migrant Crossing Route Into the Southern Border

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The US might soon get some breathing space regarding its migrant crisis, but that depends on the president-elect of Panama, José Raúl Mulino, keeping his word as he enters office. As president, Mulino has promised to close the Darien Gap, a large immigrant crossing, effectively sealing the passage thousands use to cross to the US-Mexico southern border. 

A Win for Mulino

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José Raúl Mulino became the President of Panama last Sunday after winning the election. The results were finalized Thursday with him winning 34% of the total votes. During his presidential campaign, one area Mulino focused on was how he would end the use of Panama as a migrant route by closing the gap. After his win was confirmed, Mulino reiterated this dedication to closing the gap, stating it was a border not a transit route

More About the Darien Gap

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The Darien Gap is 60 miles long and it is a rainforest resting between Panama and Colombia. It is challenging terrain but has become a popular passage among migrans coming from the southern parts.

Why It Is So Popular

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People use the gap often because they get to their destination faster. According to reports, 70% of those who come through there hail from Venezuela. The Gap only got so popular over the past year; in 2016, only about 30,000 were willing to brave the rainforest.

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Mulino On the Gap

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President-Elect Mulino had many things to say about the gap during his presidential campaign, all confirming what he believes: that the Darien Gap crossings need to end. According to him, it shuld not exist and he’s right, not only have people dies during the crossings, it also compounds the problem of organized crime in Colombia. 

Death During Crossings

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The International Committee of The Red Cross has confirmed that more than sixty migrants lost their lives trying to cross the Darien Gap in the first six months of 2023. They believe the numbers are higher but it is hard to track the precise number because there is no formal road or adequate police presence in the Gap.

Migrants And The Gap

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This year, close to 200,000 people have used the gap to access the US-Mexican southern border. The terrain is rough and claims many lives at every crossing, but people continue to use it anyway. Reports carried out by relevant authorities have shown that people who use the route hail from Venezuela, Ecuador, and Colombia

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Why Take The Risk?

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Leaving your country to live in another has never been harder. Things have become so bad that the legal ways are no longer viable causing many to find alternatives.  This is mainly because the US exerts pressure on countries, forcing them to impose stricter immigration regulations. When the governments of these countries obey, their people, bent on fgetting out, turn to criminal networks to shuttle themselves across the border, a big risk in all regards.

Why Mulino Will Shut Down the Gap

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During an interview on local radio, Mulino explained how he plans to shut down the crossings in the Darrien Gap. One way is immediate deportation to those caught, a move he believes will discourage many would-be migrants. 

Politics of The Decision

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Mulino is obviously ready to take on the challenge, however some are uncertain it is feasible to shut monitor and secure such a large swath of land. Achiebing this feat will not be easy as security will need to increase and communications withnother border countries will need tbe developed.

Doubts and Uncertainty

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Experts are not completely certain Mulino can pull off his plans. One security expert in Panama called the president-elect’s proposal d8suasive at best, clearly ceertain it could never be completely enforced.

ALSO READ: Biden Vows to Accept Election Results After Trump Refused to

It Is Not Easy to Deport Migrants

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Deportation works but if it’s not a country as rich in funds as the US, it is not advisable. It can be a costly to shuttle these migrants and the expenses quickly mount. Also it never really works out because the migrants just keep returning.

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