How to Stop the Migrant Surge through Panama’s Darien Gap

Parsing Immigration Policy, Episode 39

By Mark Krikorian and Chuck Holton on February 3, 2022

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Listen to "How to Stop the Migrant Surge through Panama’s Darien Gap" on Spreaker.


Thousands of migrants every week pass though Panama’s Darien Gap, a narrow jungle passage between Panama and Colombia, on their way north to the United States. In this week’s Center for Immigration Studies podcast, Parsing Immigration Policy, Chuck Holton, an author, war correspondent, and U.S. Army ranger who has lived in Panama since 2012, discusses the jungle migrant route, its impact on the indigenous tribes, and the Panamanian government’s role in assisting the global migrants on their journey to the U.S. southern border.

Migrants move through the Darien Gap – a roadless, triple canopy rainforest, which holds danger and death for many migrants. The migrant surge has been an economic boon for the Embera tribe in the Darien Gap, but has destroyed their way of life and has drawn many individuals into the human smuggling trade.

Holton describes what happens when the migrants exit the jungle. From that point the Panamanian government has become complicit in human smuggling through its “Controlled Flow Program”, through which migrants are transported to the Costa Rican border by bus.

Holton provides recommendations for how the United States can work with the Panamanian government to stem the flow of migrants heading to the U.S. border.

In his closing commentary, Mark Krikorian, the Center’s executive director and host of Parsing Immigration Policy, discusses recent attempts by the U.S. government to conceal the release of large numbers of migrants in the dark of night and government sponsored flights to communities throughout the U.S. carrying migrant minors apprehended at the border.


Mark Krikorian is the Executive Director of the Center for Immigration Studies.


Chuck Holton is a an author, war correspondent, and U.S. Army ranger who has lived in Panama since 2012.


Mass Migration Through Panama’s Darien Gap Destroying an Indigenous Tribe – and Human Rights Organizations Don’t Care

Panel Video: Panama's Darien Gap

Congressman and Journalists Report on Historic Surge of ‘Extra-Continental’ Migrants Now Pouring Through Panama to U.S. Border

DHS Wants Everything on the Down Low


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Intro Montage

Voices in the opening montage:

  • Sen. Barack Obama at a 2005 press conference.
  • Sen. John McCain in a 2010 election ad.
  • President Lyndon Johnson, upon signing the 1965 Immigration Act.
  • Booker T. Washington, reading in 1908 from his 1895 Atlanta Exposition speech.
  • Laraine Newman as a "Conehead" on SNL in 1977.
  • Hillary Clinton in a 2003 radio interview.
  • Cesar Chavez in a 1974 interview.
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaking to reporters in 2019.
  • Prof. George Borjas in a 2016 C-SPAN appearance.
  • Sen. Jeff Sessions in 2008 comments on the Senate floor.
  • Charlton Heston in "Planet of the Apes".