New Darien Gap Campaign Is Not the Solution

Funding repatriation flights is the key to reducing dangerous jungle treks

By CIS on April 12, 2023

The Biden administration announced yesterday a joint campaign with Panama and Colombia to slow the migrant surge through the Darien Gap, a remote area in Panama through which migrants funnel in large and increasing numbers from South America to North America. The three countries’ joint statement referenced the launch of a 60-day campaign to employ “new lawful and flexible pathways for tens of thousands of migrants and refugees as an alternative to irregular migration” and poverty reducing and job creating efforts as a means to slow the migrant surge through the Darien Gap.

Todd Bensman, the Center’s senior national security fellow and author of “OVERRUN: How Joe Biden Unleashed the Greatest Border Crisis in U.S. History”, commented, “The Biden administration’s plan to reduce flows through the Darien Gap, from the details known today, will prove completely ineffective. The only strategy that will work with immediate and substantial impact is U.S. funded air repatriations from at least three countries, Panama, Costa Rica, and Colombia, as I have proposed in both of my books.”

In 2018 Bensman visited the Darien province and revealed the existence of a formal bilateral policy called “controlled flow”, under which the governments of Panama and Costa Rica transport migrants emerging from the Darien Gap through their own territories and on to Nicaragua, where the smugglers can pick them up and keep them moving to the U.S. border. Bensman proposed at the time that the solution to the migrant surge was repatriation flights.

Noting that the air-repatriation flights used during the Del Rio migrant camp crisis were highly effective, Bensman elaborated on the repatriation flight solution to mass illegal immigration in his recent book, “OVERRUN: How Joe Biden Unleashed the Greatest Border Crisis in U.S. History”:

The United States should demand that these countries [Panama, Colombia, and Costa Rica] end their controlled flow policies and, in their place, install a U.S.-funded infrastructure in each that would fly all immigrants to origin countries anywhere in the world, on national security grounds.

See also: Panama and Costa Rica Doing Smugglers’ Work with Controlled Flow Policy

The Next Influx: Entire World’s Poor and Dispossessed

Overrun: How Joe Biden Unleashed the Greatest Border Crisis in American History

America’s Covert Border War

A United Nations of Mass Illegal Immigration, Part 1