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University of Wisconsin–Madison

Safe Passage from the Darién Gap

Principal Investigator: Sara McKinnon, professor of communication arts

Co-Principal Investigators:

Erin Barbato, associate clinical professor of law

Jorge Osorio, professor in the Department of Pathobiological Sciences in the School of Veterinary Medicine and director of the Global Health Institute

How can we make migration safer for asylum seekers as they cross the Darién Gap between Colombia and Panama to claim asylum in the United States? The project team will answer this question by interviewing asylum seekers who have made this journey and those attempting the journey about their reasons for migrating, awareness of the risks and knowledge of the U.S. asylum system.

Based on the team’s findings, the resarchers will implement interventions to help migrants make informed decisions about the journey based on their health, identities and the likelihood of receiving asylum in the United States. Interventions may include: A) Health screenings and check-ups with medical experts to assess risks along the journey; B) Consultations with legal experts to assess the likelihood of receiving asylum in the United States and information about other options for asylum. C) Communication campaigns targeting different migrant experiences about the realities of the journey, the U.S. asylum process and other asylum options.