The Venezuelan publication Tal Cual, citing unreleased data from Panama’s government, states that 196,370 people migrated through eastern Panama’s once-impenetrable Darién Gap jungles during the first 6 months of 2023.

Fifty-one percent, or 100,514 of the travelers who transited through the Darien jungle between January and June 2023, were Venezuelans.

Venezuelans were followed by Haitians (33,074), Ecuadorians (25,105), citizens of 23 African countries (6,420), Chileans (4,964) and Colombians (3,579).

(The Chileans were almost entirely the children of Haitian migrants who were born in Chile.)

If the 196,370 figure is near final, it is almost exactly 30,000 more than the 166,649 people whom Panamanian authorities had measured through May.

Screenshot from Panama's Darién Gap statistics, updated through May, showing 166,649 migrants, about 30,000 less than the figure through June cited in TalCual .

March: 38,099
April: 40,297
May: 38,962

As this screenshot of Panama’s data shows, 30,000 migrants in a month—while still an unimaginably large number for such a remote and dangerous region—is about one-quarter fewer people than Panama measured in March (38,099), April (40,297), and May (38,962).

The decline is less steep than the 70 percent drop in daily migrant apprehensions that the U.S. Border Patrol chief’s regular tweets have been recording. That probably means that the population of migrants bottled up between Panama and the U.S. border—mostly in Mexico—is increasing.

Chart: Border Patrol apprehensions at the U.S.-Mexico border: 
reported per-day total, May-June 2023

Date	Border Patrol apprehensions reported per-day total
1-May	7407
6-May	7850
8-May	8794
12-May	9680
15-May	4917
19-May	4068
22-May	2917
26-May	3149
30-May	3396
5-Jun	3015
9-Jun	3163
12-Jun	3016
16-Jun	3254
21-Jun	3303
23-Jun	3518
26-Jun	3428
30-Jun	3542

The decline at the Darién is a result of uncertainty about how the Biden administration will apply its restrictive new post-Title 42 asylum access rule to migrants who turn themselves in to U.S. authorities.

It is also a result of the end (with the end of Title 42, on May 11) of a two-month period in which Mexico’s government, in the aftermath of a tragic March 27 migrant detention center fire that killed 40 people, was refusing U.S. Title 42 expulsions of Venezuelan citizens from at least a few border sectors. That eased Venezuelan asylum seekers’ releases into the U.S. interior, and word got out about that possibility in April and the first part of May, as U.S. authorities’ encounters with Venezuelan migrants increased sharply.

Chart: CBP Encounters with citizens of Venezuela

19-Oct	728
19-Nov	588
19-Dec	693
20-Jan	243
20-Feb	206
20-Mar	166
20-Apr	9
20-May	10
20-Jun	13
20-Jul	36
20-Aug	49
20-Sep	46
20-Oct	143
20-Nov	184
20-Dec	206
21-Jan	295
21-Feb	913
21-Mar	2566
21-Apr	6048
21-May	7499
21-Jun	7583
21-Jul	6126
21-Aug	6301
21-Sep	10814
21-Oct	13416
21-Nov	20388
21-Dec	24801
22-Jan	22779
22-Feb	3073
22-Mar	4053
22-Apr	4107
22-May	5088
22-Jun	13199
22-Jul	17647
22-Aug	25361
22-Sep	33804
22-Oct	22060
22-Nov	8023
22-Dec	8190
23-Jan	9101
23-Feb	5565
23-Mar	8322
23-Apr	33850
23-May	30990

As noted above, Tal Cual reports that 100,514 Venezuelan migrants crossed the Darién Gap so far this year. That would mean about 18,500 Venezuelans crossed in June (there were 82,054 through May). That is a 30 percent drop in Venezuelan migration from May—8,000 fewer migrants, accounting for nearly all of the May-June worldwide reduction in migration through the Darién.

Since May 12, protection-seeking Venezuelan migrants must either:

  • apply for a two-year humanitarian parole status (which requires them both to hold a passport and to have a willing sponsor in the United States), or
  • make their way to northern Mexico and seek an appointment at a U.S. border port of entry using the CBP One smartphone app. CBP just increased the number of daily appointments to 1,450, about double what it was during Title 42.

While those pathways are important, they accommodate only a fraction of those seeking to migrate from Venezuela. Those reduced possibilities probably explain much of the June drop in migration through the Darién Gap, where more than half of this year’s migrants have been Venezuelan.