Podcast: Panama's Darien Gap

Parsing Immigration Policy, Episode 32

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Listen to "Panama's Darien Gap" on Spreaker.


The Center for Immigration Studies hosted a panel discussion exploring the remote area of the Darien Gap, the infamous jungle passage through which extra-continental migrants cross from South America to North America on their way to the United States southern border. International migrants are passing through the gap’s dense rainforest in record numbers. How is it impacting the indigenous people of Panama who have populated this area for thousands of years?

Mark Krikorian, the Center’s executive director and host of Parsing Immigration Policy, moderates a rebroadcast of the Center's recent panel. Todd Bensman, Senior Research Fellow of the Center for Immigration Studies and host of the live panel, helps overview the migration problems plaguing the Isthmus of Panama. The Honorable Francisco Agapi, Mayor of Cémaco, Panama and a member of the Embera tribe, flew in from Panama for his first visit to Washington, D.C. Rep. Tom Tiffany (R-WI), a member of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, spent several days earlier this year in the Darien Gap on a fact finding trip. Michael Yon, an award winning war correspondent, has spent months in the area recording stories and documenting through writing and photographs the impact of migration.


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


The Honorable Francisco Agapi serves as the Mayor of Cémaco, Panama, which is located near Darien province, home to the Darien Gap - a region dominated by rainforest, rivers and swamps. This area encompasses the reservations of seven indigenous tribes, including the largest tribe, the Embera, of which Agapi is a member. 

Representative Tom Tiffany represents the 7th Congressional District of Wisconsin and serves on the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship and the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security. 

Michael Yon is an award winning war correspondent. Since January, Michael has studied migration on the ground in Morocco, Greece, Lithuania, Colombia, Panama, Mexico, and the United States.

Todd Bensman (Moderator), traveled extensively through Panama three years ago investigating how special interest aliens move through Panama. Bensman is a former counterterrorism intelligence practitioner, journalist, and author of "America’s Covert Border War: The Untold Story of the Nation’s Battle to Prevent Jihadist Infiltration".


Panel Video

Panel Transcript

Darien Gap Map


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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".