For years, people fleeing violence, economic instability, and insecurity from South America have traveled through Panama in hopes of reaching the US. Recently, there has been an increase in the number of immigrants crossing the border from Colombia to Panama at the Darien Pass. Many people are currently passing through the dangerous and inhospitable jungle in hopes to reach the US, only to be met with refused entry causing them to begin the treacherous journey back to their country of origin.
Our partners on the ground have seen an increase from 50 Venezuelan migrants a day to over 700 per day. Families are in desperate need of food, water and psychological support. Tearfund USA has partners on the ground, providing emergency supplies, food, and water. Please join us in responding to our sojourning brothers and sisters.
Latin America is experiencing the largest exodus in its history, where the international and regional migratory context is undergoing significant changes in terms of the causes of expulsion, routes, risks, and the composition of migratory flows. This context impacts groups that are in a situation of greater vulnerability. The search for economic opportunities, family reunification, humanitarian, political, and social crisis, violence, and environmental degradation are the main causes of migration for the inhabitants of South and Central America and the Caribbean.
The pandemic worsened the world’s economic situation and increased the vulnerability of people in human mobility, who, with the dream of a better life, seek to migrate to the United States, exposing themselves to the lucrative business of human trafficking, discrimination, xenophobia, all kinds of violence on the road and in many cases to the inclement and inhospitable jungle of the Darién Gap, where thousands of migrants from South America, the Caribbean, Africa, and Asia are currently passing through, seeking to reach Mexico and cross over to the United States. The Darien Gap is an imposing obstacle on one of the world's most dangerous migration routes. The remote, roadless crossing on the border between Colombia and Panama consists of more than sixty miles of dense rainforest, steep mountains, and vast swamps. This makes Panama a hot spot for migration and in recent days they have seen an increase in migration flows and a deepening humanitarian crisis.
In recent days, however, Panama has seen a daily increase in immigrants crossing its borders. From the north, those that have been deported from the US and are returning to their country of origin in the south face the Darien Gap so they extend their stay in Panama until they find a way to return home. Those from the south who have survived the Darien Gap remain in Panama until they feel ready to continue their journey to the North. Some experts on the ground attribute the recent increase in migration flow to changes in policy. The US constitution has long guaranteed the right to seek asylum to individuals who arrive at the southern border and ask for protection. But since March 20, 2020, when the pandemic began, that fundamental right was suspended under a provision of U.S. health law—section 265 of Title 42. A new ruling by a federal judge on this controversial policy blocks Title 42 health order used to expel people crossing the southern border. So now people seeking asylum are detained in US soil. Experts fear that when the word spreads that you can make it to the southern border without being immediately deported, more people will take their chances to make the trip north.
In 2019, Tearfund launched the As One Born Among Us (Como Nacido Entre Nosotros) campaign in response to the Venezuelan crisis, the campaign soon spread to the entire Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) region, focusing its work on four key areas:
- Sensitize the church to the biblical mandate of serving and advocating for those who migrate.
- Mobilize and develop actions to serve the migrant population.
- Advocacy for the rights of migrants.
- Help migrants integrate into receiving communities.