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Central American Asylum Seekers Are Still Fleeing Persecution – They're Heading South

Jul 13, 2015

Blog Post

Fox News Latino: Op-Ed by Melanie Nezer of HIASFox News Latino featured an op-ed by HIAS Vice President for Policy and Advocacy Melanie Nezer on the growing numbers of Central American asylum seekers heading to Panama.

"While most of the refugees currently arriving in Panama are Colombian, the country has recently seen an increase in asylum seekers from the volatile “northern triangle” of Central America – the countries of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. The increase of asylum seekers from the northern triangle has coincided with a decrease in the number of asylum seekers reaching the United States.

"Since January, 1,600 people have filed asylum claims in Panama. By comparison, there were 1,800 claims filed during all of 2014. Despite a long history as a country of refuge, the asylum system in Panama is under-resourced and cannot keep up with the volume of asylum claims. The country does not allow asylum seekers to work and struggles to provide support for asylum seekers in the country.

"Asylum seekers from Central America are mostly families — many are parents traveling with children. They come to Panama because it is simply unsafe for their children in their home countries."

Read the full op-ed on Fox News Latino.