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The Quest to Get to America Becomes More Dangerous

May 31, 2015
Plain English Version
Carlos Villalon for The Wall Street Journal

Carlos Villalon for The Wall Street Journal

Global migration continues to kill thousands. The plight of human cargo is miserable. Asian and European countries are beginning to respond. They are trying to stop migration at its source. Sometimes they do this by making things better in the migrants’ home countries. Sometimes they use the police and the military to go after human smugglers.

Still, traffic from the Middle East, Asia and Africa continues to flow. Some of it is now going to South America and then on to Panama. Panama border police say migrants are coming from Somalia, Pakistan and Nepal.

Panama is the gateway to the rest of Central America. Migrants continue to Mexico. Then it is on to the United States.

They come to Panama by boat and by foot. Boats cost more. Panama denies entry to most people who arrive without a passport. But some people manage to stay. And Panama is simply not able to ship some people back to their home country.

Entry to Panama by land is through the Darien Gap.

What is the Darien Gap like? No roads, no major towns. It is untamed jungle, swamp and rainforest. It is home to hundreds of animals, including reptiles, jaguars, wild pigs, blood-sucking bats, poison-dart frogs and vipers. There are also human predators.

One refugee said, “There was no water. There were snakes.” Gashes and bites were covering his legs under his traditional sarong. He continued, “I thought I might die in that jungle.”

A refugee from Guinea lay on a cot in a holding center. She said, “I was forced into marriage. I was worried about Ebola. I would rather have died in the jungle than go back.”

People are trying to get to the Western world. Nations where there is the rule of law. Where there are jobs and schools. Where equal rights is the goal. They are willing to risk dying to get there.

Global migration continues to kill thousands. The plight of human cargo is miserable. Asian and European countries are beginning to respond. They are trying to stop migration at its source. Sometimes they do this by making things better in their home countries. Sometimes they use the police and the military to go after human smugglers.

Still, traffic from the Middle East, Asia and Africa continues to flow. Some of it is now going to South America and then on to Panama. Panama border police say migrants are coming from Somalia, Pakistan and Nepal.

Panama is the gateway to the rest of Central America. Migrants continue to Mexico. Then it is on to the United States.

They come to Panama by boat and by foot. Boats cost more. Panama denies entry to most people who arrive without a passport. But some people manage to stay. And Panama is simply not able to ship some people back to their home country.

Entry to Panama by land is through the Darien Gap.

What is the Darien Gap like? No roads, no major towns. It is untamed jungle, swamp, and rainforest. It is home to hundreds of animals, including reptiles, jaguars, wild pigs, blood-sucking bats, poison-dart frogs, and vipers. There are also human predators.

One refugee said, “There was no water. There were snakes.” Gashes and bites were covering his legs under his traditional sarong. He continued, “I thought I might die in that jungle.”

A refugee from Guinea lay on a cot in a holding center. She said, “I was forced into marriage. I was worried about Ebola. I would rather have died in the jungle than go back.”

People are trying to get to the Western world. Nations where there is the rule of law. Where there are jobs and schools. Where equal rights is the goal. They are willing to risk dying to get there.

Source: The Wall Street Journal May 29, 2015

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