QCOSTARICA — Mexico and Honduras have joined Central American countries busing migrants north, sparking fears from Joe Biden’s administration, as its border crisis deepens.
In just one week last month, more than 14,000 travelers were bused from Panama to Costa Rica – part of a new plan between the nations to funnel arrivals north.
The Biden administration is holding talks with the Latin American countries to stop the flow as a record 2.47 million migrants were stopped at the U.S. border in fiscal year 2023 – up from nearly 2.4 million the year before.
In comments to The New York Times Wednesday – as the number of crossings from Panama sits at just over 400,000 – the head of a nonprofit assisting migrants at a bus terminal in Costa Rica touted how the two countries were treating the situation.
‘The United States wants to contain the people,’ Dr. Marta Blanco, the executive director of the Cadena Foundation, told the NYTimes. ‘This is to keep sending people, to just keep the flow going.’
Publicly, though, the political figures commended both Costa Rica and Panama – praising their politicians for collaborating through their own security and immigration concerns to pen the so-called ‘humanitarian’ plan.
On Wednesday – a little more than two months after Biden doled out US$12 million to Costa Rica to bolster immigration – the officials secretly said the new plan only incentivizes migrants to make the perilous journey, while also hampering the United States.
The policies from Costa Rica and now Mexico and Honduras could only make the U.S. front of the crisis worse, the unnamed officials told the NYTimes.
In Central America, however, people seem to think differently – some told the NYTimes that the new policies just make the journey safer, which is why it’s called ‘humanitarian’.
“It’s not about allowing, motivating or deterring this travel. It’s about giving safe conditions to the people who are doing it because otherwise, they’d be in danger of trafficking or hazardous conditions,” said Jose Pablo Vindas, a Costa Rican immigration police coordinator at a bus station.
To reach Panama, then move north the rest of Central America into Mexico to reach the U.S. border, migrants have to brave the Darien Gap, a 106-kilometer (66-mile) stretch of dangerous jungle and swamp.
But this year, it’s estimated that 500,000 people will cross it – an increase from 400,000 last year and 200,000 the year before.