United States Signs Arrangement with Panama to Implement Removal Flight Program


Today, the United States and Panama announced the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will begin a new U.S. Department of State-funded foreign assistance program to address irregular migration in the region. This program will help the Panamanian government to remove foreign nationals who do not have a legal basis to remain in Panama. This assistance seeks to reduce unprecedented irregular migration through the Darien region, through which over 520,000 migrants transited in 2023.

The new arrangement between the United States and Panama advances collaboration on migration management, including support for safe and effective Panamanian repatriation operations that include protection screening. The removal flight program is part of the comprehensive regional approach to address irregular migration. Due to the unique mission set, DHS will support training and capacity building to strengthen and institutionalize safe, humane repatriation processes in Panama.

“Irregular migration is a regional challenge that requires a regional response,” said Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas. “As the United States continues to secure our borders and remove individuals without a legal basis to remain, we are grateful for our partnership with Panama to manage the historic levels of migration across the Western Hemisphere.”

Under the Los Angeles Declaration on Migration and Protection, the United States is working with 21 partners throughout the region to take coordinated actions to promote stability, expand lawful pathways and provide individuals with options to stay where they are, and humanely manage borders throughout the Americas.

“Irregular migration affects each of our countries and there is a responsibility across the Western Hemisphere to help address it. Through the Los Angeles Declaration we have taken meaningful steps to expand lawful migration pathways as an alternative to irregular migration, to improve enforcement efforts, to support host communities and to strengthen protections for members of vulnerable populations,” said Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken.

DHS continues to enforce U.S. immigration laws and deliver tough consequences for those who do not have a lawful basis to remain in the United States, consistent with international obligations. On June 4, President Biden issued a Proclamation to temporarily suspend the entry of certain noncitizens across the Southern border. As a result, the Border Patrol’s 7-day encounter average has decreased more than 40%, and DHS has operated more than 120 international repatriation flights to more than 20 countries. A majority of all Southwest Border encounters during the past three fiscal years resulted in a removal, return, or expulsion.

The United States continues to urge migrants seeking to come to the United States to take advantage of the lawful pathways and processes that have been made available and significantly expanded.  People should not put their lives in the hands of callous smugglers and cross our border unlawfully only to be removed.

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