Too Late: White House Blocks Mayorkas’ Venezuelan Flood

A group of migrants, mostly Venezuelans, walk across the Darien Gap from Colombia into Pan
AP Photo/Fernando Vergara

The massive flow of Venezuelan migrants through the deadly Darien Gap has all but ended, just three weeks after President Joe Biden’s top aides ordered a surprise, pre-election border closure for the Venezuelans.

But the election-eve turnabout comes too late for the many Venezuelan migrants who were killed while trying to get through the Darien Gap jungle trail to reach the U.S. border.

A 25-year-old Venezuelan law graduate, who carried her four-year-old son through the jungle trek from Colombia to Panama, told the Telegraph in October:

“A lot of people died,” she says. “We saw the badly decomposed body of one kid before crossing the mountains and another woman with her dead child who must have been about four. We also found skulls of children about 9-years-old. Everybody saw the bodies.”

“When you entice people to illegally cross the border, you share responsibility for those who suffer harm,” said Mark Krikorian, the director of the Center for Immigration Studies. “There’s no way around that — and that is a lesson that Democrats need to learn over and over again because they just have this totally unrealistic idea of how migration works.”

Biden’s deputies opened the border to Venezuelans as soon as they got into office. The official who pushed the hardest was Alejandro Mayorkas, the Cuba-born, pro-migration zealot who runs the nation’s border agency, the Department of Homeland Security.

US Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas chairs a plenary session of the 9th Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles, California, June 10, 2022. (Photo by Patrick T. FALLON / AFP) (Photo by PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images)

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas chairs a plenary session of the 9th Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles, California, June 10, 2022. (PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images)

The result was a massive flood of Venezuelans through the Darien Gap and across the U.S. border, from 4,500 in 2020, to 50,500 in 2021, and 189,500 in the 12 months up to October 1, 2022. A migrant recorded the rising flood on October 3:

The chaotic flood of Venezuelans — and other many other migrants from other countries — helped wreck Biden’s poll ratings, despite a near-blackout by the establishment media. The public opposition may soon sink every other progressive goal on climate, civil rights, gun control, economics, healthcare, energy, and much else.

In a last-minute effort to avoid an election-day disaster, Biden’s top White House deputies imposed an October surprise border blockade against Venezuelans, despite objections from pro-migration Mayorkas.

The order immediately stopped the Venezuelan flood — and even split families.

In early October, almost 4,000 migrants were crossing the Darien Gap each day, including about 3,o00 Venezuelans. That added up to about 1 million Venezuelans per year.

Once the October 12 blockage was announced, the flood of Venezuelans who risked their lives walking through the gap dropped to under 100 per day, according to officials in Panama and Costa Rica.

Further north, “We had 1,500 [Venezuelans] crossing the border every day, now we have less than 150,” Arturo Rocha, chief of staff for North American Affairs at Mexico’s Foreign Ministry, told BorderReport.com. As part of the October policy, Mexico’s government also began driving the blocked Venezuelans further south and offering them temporary residency and jobs.

The success of the White House’s narrow October 12 rule is “unlikely to lead to a change of heart or a recognition of previous error” by progressives, said Mark Krikorian, the director of the Center for Immigration Studies. He told Breitbart News:

The only reason they did this was because their offer of unlimited immigration for Venezuelans resulted in such an explosive wildfire of border crossings that — especially right before an election — the administration had to respond. If the increase had been more gradual, if it had been a frog in a pot of boiling water kind of thing, and there hadn’t been an election coming up. I don’t think they would have changed policy.

But the White House’s election-eve policy does not block the hundreds of thousands of other migrants from Cuba, Haiti Africa, South America, and elsewhere that are being allowed to come through Mayorkas’ border. So thousands of people continue to migrate through the Darien Gap, through Mexico, and up to Americans’ border.

Panama’s president, for example, recently warned that 10,000 migrants a day would come through his country on their way to Texas and California.

 

How Many Migrants Were Killed by Mayorkas’ Pathway?

The establishment media has largely ignored the myriad Darien Gap deaths caused by Biden’s border policies — despite the availability of many stories and videos offered by migrants.

For example, the August admission by the Associated Press — “Hundreds of migrants are believed to have died” — is visible at only a few news sites.

Other reporters will admit to many more deaths.

“Almost everyone that you speak to will tell you … they saw multiple bodies, that there were multiple people in their group who died, whether by drowning or other various injuries,” said Molly O’Toole, a pro-immigration reporter at the Los Angeles Times. The death toll “is really difficult to say, but likely in the hundreds, if not upwards of [more than] 1,000,” she said in an October 26 interview on National Public Radio.

There is no road connecting South America to Central America. Prosperous people can fly across the gap, but poor people have to walk through the jungle, up hills, and across flood-prone rivers.

Reporters at establishment sites provide brief references — or merely mentions of risk — to the death toll, but rarely follow up. For example, CNN’s Ray Sanchez slipped this horror story into a September 18 report about migrants being delivered to Martha’s Vineyard:

The couple [Pedro Luis Torrealba and his wife, said they] started the roadless crossing on the border between Colombia and Panama — the deadly Darién Gap — with more than 60 other migrants, Torrealba said outside the parish house on Thursday night. Only 22 completed the trek across the 60 miles of jungle and steep mountains, he said. Some fell from cliffs, others were swept away by flood waters.

The New York Times reported on September 15:

Ardenis Nazareth, newly arrived from Venezuela, was standing in a McDonald’s parking lot across the street from a San Antonio shelter a few days ago contemplating his next steps.

After a monthslong odyssey through seven countries he had finally made it to the United States. It was time to banish from his thoughts the worst moments — when he was robbed at gunpoint and people dropped dead of exhaustion beside him as they crossed a lawless jungle, and when he watched helplessly as his friend was swallowed by the turbulent waters of the Rio Grande, just before touching U.S. soil in Texas.

The Darien Gap trail starts on the coastline of Colombia in South America. Migrants buy tickets for boats to Panamanian beaches, where the migrants walk the trails to villages on the edges of Panama’s road network. The migrants are aided and applauded by Panama’s government, and by various non-profits, often funded by the U.S. government.

The original route took up to 10 days of walking. In early 2022. Mayorkas negotiated an easier route with Panama’s government, which allows migrants to take a high-speech water-taxi past Panama’s border guard to the start of a shorter trail that takes a few days.

Adults and children die from drownings, falls, leg injuries, sinkings,  gang attacks, suicide, and heart attacks, amid aid from the Panama government.

“This was just short of homicide,” said Todd Bensman, a former Texas journalist, and homeland security expert. “It’s taking fairly naive people — they’re naive in the sense that a lot of times they don’t really fully understand what’s on the trail — and then they die because they were ill-prepared,” said Bensman, who has made repeated visits to the Darien Gap.

Nobody knows how many have died on the trail,” said Bensman. “A lot of people get swept away in the rivers … A lot of people just get killed out in the jungle and their bodies just rot.”

“Were it not for Mayorkas’ policies, thousands of people would be alive today,” Bensman said.

The Darien Gaps deaths do not include Mayorkas’ record death toll at sea, in Mexico, or along the U.S. border during 2021 and 2022.

Many of the most recent Darien Gap stories are from migrants who took Mayorkas’s safer water-taxi route.

“There’s a lot of rape and robbery, but people are not just being left on the trailside to rot into the jungle,” said Bensman, who now works with the Center for Immigration Studies.

The Telegraph‘s reporter interviewed surviving migrants who reached the Panamanian settlements:

Another unaccompanied teenager staying in the camp is 16-year-old Nicole Estefanie, who is also travelling alone and hoping to be reunited with her father in the US. Her father (who crossed the Darien Gap five months ago) is wiring her money as she travels but already she has been robbed by bandits in the jungle and had her identification documents stolen. ‘I had nothing left and spent two days without eating and thought I was going to die,” she says, her eyelids drooping out of sheer fatigue.

Other youths are being sent north by their middle-class parents, the Telegraph reported:

The [Flores sisters], whose father works as a dentist in Venezuela, paid $2,000 to people traffickers. Rosibel, a bright, bespectacled girl who in the US wants to train as a dentist, says she saw three dead people in the jungle: a man who had smashed his head upon rocks and two others who had recently drowned. “I wanted to stop and pray for him but the group I was with didn’t let me,” she says.

Many Venezuelans who were welcomed in 2021 by Mayorkas got jobs and paid for their wives and children to make the trek in 2022.

The chain-migration process helps to explain the massive rise in women and children who have been recently struggling through the trail. The woman with the four-year-old child, for example, said she was walking north to live with her migrant mother in Orlando, Florida. “If those people were prosecuted aggressively … you would have a whole lot more living people,” Bensman added.

International organizations — often funded indirectly by Mayorkas with taxpayer funding — have set up aid stations to help more of the economic migrants safely get into the United States.

Once identified by the Panamanian authorities, [unaccompanied children] are kept in a refuge run in partnership with Unicef while attempts are made to track down their families. Earlier this year a three-year-old child was rescued whose parents had died in the jungle and they were taken into care in Panama.

The most jarring accounts of mass deaths are from the lethal, 10-day, walk-and-canoe trail. The longer trail was used for many years by a much smaller number of global migrants who first flew into South America.

“There are more vultures out there than I’ve seen in anywhere in the world,” journalist Michael Yon told a December 2021 meeting arranged by the Center for Immigration Studies. He continued:

We think about 10 percent of the people that go through [the Darien Gap jungle] die. There’s no way for us to know the true numbers, because we don’t know how many leave [Columbia] and we don’t know how many actually come out through [into Panama].

But after being down there for months, and interviewing just tons of people — hundreds — I’m going to guess 10 percent die out there. And if 100,000 people came through this year, that’s 10,000 people [dead].

An April 2020 report said:

There was another sign that they were reaching the [trail] end: The number of corpses began to increase. There were the corpses that were visible — the ribcage splayed on a rock, the rotting body shoved off to the side of the trail, the skull beside the river. Some of the Cameroonians spotted a new-looking tent off the trail, thinking they might take it for themselves. When they opened it, they discovered three bodies. “We ran,” Vitalis said. The bodies kept piling up.

“We entered here,” Benita said, “we meet corpse. We go this way, we meet corpse. We come back inside the water. We enter the river. We come out. We continue just like that.” There was one body — half a body, without its torso and head — that struck Benita with such terror, she screamed and bolted, despite her knee. When she looked at it, she saw what she could become. Pastor yelled at her to slow down, that she would injure her leg, but Benita was off.

Then there was the death that they couldn’t see but that clogged their senses. It was the fetid smell seeping through patches of brush. It was the vultures circling and squawking overhead. Seeing the bodies, Wajid said, “immediately, we got energy.” When night fell, they kept on going, even though they were without a flashlight. “We walked like I have never walked before,” Pastor said.

 

How Much Political Damage Did Mayorkas Do to Biden?

In late 2021, Biden’s East Coast network of political deputies learned about the Darien Gap after a few establishment outlets posted dramatic — but sanitized — articles about the migrant trek.

The White House’s top staff recognized that Mayorkas is a pro-migration idealogue. But they could not easily fire him because he is protected by Biden’s West Coast network of investors and their pro-migration cheerleaders in non-profits and the media. The investors want to maximize the inflow of cheap workers, consumers, and renters into the U.S. economy.

Mayorkas was a one-year-old child in 1960 when his prosperous parents fled from Cuba to California’s prosperous, all-American Beverly Hills. Sixty-two years later, Mayorkas wants to globalize his good fortune. So he has been using his knowledge of the nation’s immigration laws, federal funds, and his agency’s clout in Central America, to build many new pathways for poor migrants to get into the United States.

“We’re building an immigration system that is designed to ensure due process, respect human dignity, and promote equity,” Mayorkas tweeted in August 2021, as he sketched out his plans for easy-asylum rules that would encourage a mass migration of poor job-seekers into an Americans economy that  Americans’

In a November 2021 Senate hearing, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) asked Mayorkas: “What should be a higher priority of the United States Government? Securing our border or giving amnesty to illegal aliens who are already here?”

“Justice is our priority,” Mayorkas responded, adding “That includes securing our border and providing relief to those [migrants] who qualify for it under our laws.”

But Mayorkas’ elite-0backed migration is being pushed onto an American population that has already transformed, impoverished, and divided by Washington’s post-1965 policy of extracting workers and consumers from poor countries.

The post-1965 inflow of migrants has imposed a huge cost on Americans by pressuring down Americans’ wages. It has also boosted rents and housing prices and has reduced native-born Americans’ clout in local and national elections. The inflow has also pushed many native-born Americans out of careers in a wide variety of fields and spiked the number of “Deaths of Despair.”

Unsurprisingly, Mayorkas’s extra mass migration in 2021 and 2022 tanked Biden’s poll ratings.

In response, Biden’s East Coast network of staffers and appointees gradually forced some of Mayorkas’ West Coast allies out of the White House in 2021 and 2022. Officials also pressured Mexico, Columbia, and other countries in 2021 to curb the award of visas to middle-class Venezuelans who could afford to fly over the gap to airports just south of the U.S. border.

The White House’s policy succeeded. In December 2021, 25,000 Venezuelans arrived at Mayorkas’ border stations. The number plunged to 3,200 in February 2022.

Biden’s deputies do not want to stop the migration — they just want to hide it from the voters, said Bensman. “There’s a policy called ‘Controlled Flow‘ and it’s been in place for years. The Panamanians, the Colombians, Costa Ricans, have all abided by this thing for years … They just altered it a little bit so that the flow goes around the Darien Gap and not through it anymore,” he said.

A group of migrants, mostly Venezuelans, prepare to start crossing the Darien Gap from Colombia into Panama hoping to reach the U.S., Saturday, Oct. 15, 2022. (AP Photo/Fernando Vergara)

A group of migrants, mostly Venezuelans, prepare to start crossing the Darien Gap from Colombia into Panama hoping to reach the U.S., Saturday, October 15, 2022. (AP Photo/Fernando Vergara)

Yet Mayorkas and his allies fought to maximize the migrant flow.

For example, Mayorkas worked with Panama to quietly open a safer water-taxi route through the Darien Gap in early 2022. The safer route is overseen by U.S.-funded aid groups and Panama’s government. That safer route began operating in early 2022 after months of negotiations with the government of Panama, Columbia, and other countries. The deals were conducted behind closed doors by Mayorkas and Antony Blinken, Biden’s pro-migration secretary of state.

Migrants, mostly Venezuelans, walk across the Darien Gap from Colombia into Panama hoping to reach the U.S. on Saturday, Oct. 15, 2022. (AP Photo/Fernando Vergara)

Migrants, mostly Venezuelans, walk across the Darien Gap from Colombia into Panama hoping to reach the U.S. on Saturday, October 15, 2022. (AP Photo/Fernando Vergara)

The new route is shorter, flatter, and safer, although still exposed to robbers and rapists operating from the jungle. So Mayorkas’ safer route also ensured that more migrants could head north.

Mayorkas also failed to enforce the Central American governments’ agreements to block the flights of middle-class Venezuelans.  So Mayorkas’ northward flow of Venezuelans began climbing rapidly in 2022, from 5,300 in May, to 25,000 in August, and to 34,000 in September.

So Biden’s poll numbers tanked as Republicans hammered him — and as Mayorkas’ flood of migrants exacerbated the economic pain caused by inflation, housing prices, and low wages.

Overall, Mayorkas’ illegal border flood delivered seven migrants for every 10 American births in 2022. He delivered six migrants for every 10 Americans who turned 18 in 2022. More than half of respondents told an Ipsos pollster in a pre-election NPR poll that Mayokras’ migration is an “invasion.”

Now Biden’s agenda will be crippled if the Democrats lose the House or Senate, the New York Times reported on October 29:

Mr. Biden’s aspirations to codify abortion rights, expand access to child care and college, address racial discrimination in policing, install more like-minded judges and guarantee voting rights would all become more difficult, if not impossible, to achieve.

For their part, Republicans aim to roll back Mr. Biden’s corporate tax increases, climate change spending, student loan forgiveness and I.R.S. expansion targeting wealthy tax cheats.

 

Excuses and Evasions

The business wing of the GOP has said little or nothing about the deaths on the trail. They support the federal government’s unspoken economic policy of Extraction Migration and use their donations to minimize any debate about migration’s impact on pocketbook politics.

Business-funded progressives use the migrant deaths to argue for their long-standing goals, such as cheap labor and open borders.

But few migrants themselves say they are fleeing government persecution. Instead, they say they are accepting Biden’s offer of better jobs and homes in the United States.

The pro-migration advocates hide their pro-migration views by claiming that migrants are forced to migrate, or are desperate. “Enforcement alone will not work,” claimed Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, the policy director at the American Immigration Council, which advocates for more migration. “Until we … offer people alternate pathways to come here legally, migrants will continue to drag themselves through danger to find the American Dream,” said Reichlin-Melnick.

“What made them more desperate than they were a year ago or two years ago?” Krikorian responded, adding:

Nothing’s changed particularly in Venezuela — or in Colombia or Peru, where a lot of these people are actually coming here. What has changed is the opportunity to be let go into the United States, which didn’t exist before.

Left-wing reporters say little about the migration or the deaths. They do not want to expose the human wreckage caused by their pro-migration preferences, or they remain silent because their employers want to protect the Biden administration, said Bensman.

O’Toole, a pro-migration reporter on leave from the Los Angeles Times, for example, crossed the safer Darien trail in September, when one migrant died for lack of insulin. She spoke about it on a podcast — but her employer has minimized pre-election coverage of the migrants’ ordeal.

The New York Times has also minimized its coverage of Biden’s disaster because the details show how Biden’s policies have killed thousands of migrants.  For example, it posted a well-photographed article on October 7 that downplayed the deaths with vague, no-number descriptions:

A powerful criminal group controls the region. Many migrants have been extorted and sexually assaulted on the route. Others have died on the hike, carried away by rivers or killed after a steep fall.

“To cover the Gap properly means [reporters] have to acknowledge that something in the United States is bringing them in,” said Bensman.

“The supporters of mass immigration never learn and they’re never held to account,” said Krikorian.  “Ultimately, open borders migration is a litmus test and a non-negotiable value for the left,” he said, adding, “I fully expect this to happen all over again.”

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