Panel Video: Panama's Darien Gap

The Migration Chokepoint


Press Release


Panel Transcript

Darien Gap Map

Event Summary

The Center for Immigration Studies hosted a panel discussion on December 7, 2021, 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?

Panelists bring personal stories and information from the Darien Gap area. 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. He has firsthand experience with the physical and cultural impact of mass migration on the indigenous tribes in the area he serves. 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.


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), the Center’s Texas-based Senior Research Fellow, traveled extensively through Panama three years ago investigating how special interest aliens move through Panama.

Full Panel Video

Todd Bensman's Intro


Mayor Fancisco Agapi's Statement


Michael Yon's Statement


Representative Tom Tiffany's Statement


Question and Answer Session


Panel Clips

Rep. Tiffany Questions the International Organization for Migration's Role in the Movement of Migrants to the U.S.


Rep. Tiffany Explains How Policies Act as "Pumping Stations" in Migrant Pipeline to U.S.