Wednesday, April 5, 2023

U.S.-Bound Migrants Surge at Darien Jungle Crossing in Panama; Panama Reports a 450% Surge in Migrants Heading to the US Border; What It’s Like Crossing the World's Deadliest Jungle

Photo: Fernando Vergara/Associated Press
WSJ: U.S.-Bound Migrants Surge at Darien Jungle Crossing in Panama:
The number of migrants crossing into Panama after trudging through the treacherous Darien Gap jungle reached record levels in the first two months of the year, data from Panama showed, posing a fresh challenge to their destination country, the U.S.
In January and February, 49,291 people from as near as Haiti and as far away as China have crossed the Darien, a span of rainforest separating Panama from Colombia. That is more than a fivefold increase from the 8,964 migrants in the same period last year, according to Panama’s immigration office.
“We didn’t expect such a big increase,” said Cristina Zugasti, representative of Doctors Without Borders in Panama, which provides medical treatment for migrants after they emerge from the grueling jungle trek. “We’re very concerned.”
Panama’s growing number of migrants, who tell officials they are mostly bound for the U.S., now points to a likely increase of people arriving at the U.S.’s southern border in the coming months as they flee economic hardship, crime and political unrest at home.
About 2,200 Chinese migrants were among those crossing the Darien Gap in the first two months of 2023, a sharp increase in a group that usually has made up a much smaller proportion of migrants through the area. During the same period last year, 71 Chinese migrants were recorded passing through Panama.
The surge comes as a growing number of Chinese have left their country amid anxiety over China’s direction under leader Xi Jinping, manifested by months of some of the world’s harshest Covid-19 restrictions and fresh signs of economic weakness. Chinese migrants have been posting about their treks and the food they eat on the way on Twitter, TikTok and its Chinese version Douyin, using the hashtag #zouxian, which is roughly translated as trek.
In the U.S., the number of Chinese nationals caught sneaking across the U.S.-Mexico border has fluctuated in recent years. But the numbers soared in February, when U.S. Border Patrol agents arrested 1,345 Chinese migrants, according to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
Since the start of the government’s budget year in October, agents have made 4,271 arrests of Chinese nationals along the southwest border. That is a 12-fold increase from the same period a year earlier. --->READ MORE HERE
Photographer: Nicolo Filippo Rosso/Bloomberg
Panama Reports a 450% Surge in Migrants Heading to the US Border:
Panama has reported a five-fold surge in migration through its southern jungles, posing a fresh challenge to the US government of President Joe Biden as it prepares to lift health regulations that allowed it to turn migrants away at the border.
More than 49,000 migrants have entered Panama from Colombia through the region known as the Darien Gap in January and February this year, from fewer than 9,000 during the same period in 2022, according to data published by Panama’s immigration service.
The largest number of migrants came from Haiti, which has descended into anarchy in recent years, followed by Ecuador and Venezuela.
Panamanian authorities also reported a 3,000% increase in Chinese nationals crossing the Darien over the same period, with 2,198 making the trip in January and February. --->READ MORE HERE
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+++++What It’s Like Crossing the World's Deadliest Jungle+++++

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