Guards didn’t release migrants, fire spread in deadly Mexican detention center fire, video show


when Smoke began to rise from the immigration camp In the Mexican border city of Ciudad Juarez, Venezuelan immigrant Viangli Infante Padrón was horrified because she knew her husband was still home.

The father of her three children was arrested by immigration authorities earlier in the day. It was part of a recent crackdown that caught 67 other immigrants, many of whom demanded handouts or washed car windows at traffic lights in the city across the Rio Grande. was El Paso, Texas.

In a moment of shock and terror, Infante Padron recounted how he saw immigration officers rush out of the building after a fire broke out late Monday. carried out on a stretcher. 38 dead, 28 seriously injured, victims of the fire, apparently protested by the inmates themselves.

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said migrants who learned of their deportations and movements set fire to protest.

Lopez Obrador said, “I never imagined that this would cause this terrible misfortune.

Light a candle for dead migrants at Mexican immigration facility
People hold candles outside an immigration research institute after a fire at an immigration facility killed at least 38 migrants in the northern border city of Ciudad Juarez Mexico on March 28, 2023.

Christian Torres/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Authorities had initially reported 40 dead, but later said some may have been counted twice in the chaos. According to the National Institute for Immigration, which runs the facility, 28 people were injured and are in “delicate to serious” conditions.

“I was desperate because there was no corpse, corpse, corpse, and nowhere to see him,” Infante Padrón said of her husband, Eduardo Caraballo López. He was due for release and was near the door.

But what she saw in the first few minutes is central to a question many in Mexico are asking themselves. Why didn’t the authorities try to release the men, almost all from Guatemala, Honduras, Venezuela and El Salvador, before the rooms filled with smoke?And killed many?

“There was smoke everywhere. The people they were exhaling were women and immigration officials,” said Infante Padrón. “The men didn’t let them out until the firefighters arrived.”

“Only they had the keys,” Infante Padron said. Regardless. They had to save lives.”

All night outside the offices of the National Institute for Migration (INM) in Ciudad Juárez
Immigrants hold a candlelight rally outside the offices of the National Institute of Migration to commemorate the victims of the fire that broke out late Monday at the migrant detention center in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, March 28, 2023. .

Jose Luis Gonzalez / Reuters

Immigration officials said they had released 15 women at the time of the fire, but did not explain why the men were not released.

Surveillance video leaked on Tuesday showed migrants placing foam mattresses on the bars of their holding cells and setting them on fire.

In a video later confirmed by the government, two people dressed as guards burst into the camera frame and at least one immigrant appears by a metal gate on the other side. Instead, it hurries away, and within seconds billowing clouds of smoke fill the structure.

“What humanity do we have in life? What humanity have we built? Death, death, death,” thundered Bishop Mons. José Guadalupe Torres Campos at a Mass in memory of the migrants.

Mexico’s National Institute of Immigration said it was cooperating with the investigation. Guatemala has already said many of the victims were its own citizens, but has yet to complete a full identification of the dead and wounded.

US officials have offered to help treat some of the 28 victims who are in critical or critical condition, most likely due to smoke inhalation.

For many, the tragedy has been a long string of events, with leaders in places like Venezuela and Central America, immigration policymakers in Mexico and the United States, and residents of Ciudad Juárez complaining about the number of immigrants seeking immigration. It was the foreseeable result of a series of decisions. Handouts on street corners.

More than 30 immigration shelters and other advocacy groups said in a statement Tuesday, “You could see it coming. Mexico’s immigration policy kills people.”

Relatives of migrants killed in a fire in front of a migration complex in Ciudad Juarez
On March 28, 2023, hundreds of immigrants turned to immigration departments seeking information on victims of a fire inside an immigration detention center in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.

Anadolu Agency by David Peinado/Getty Images

These same advocacy groups issued an open letter on March 9 calling for the criminalization of immigrants and asylum seekers in Ciudad Juárez. It accused authorities of abusing migrants and using excessive force in rounding up them. These included complaints that local police interrogated them on the street about their immigration status without reason.

Lopez Obrador expressed sympathy on Tuesday but offered little hope of change.

Irineo Mujica, an immigration activist, said migrants have to cross Mexico many times because they fear being deported to southern Mexico, not necessarily to their home countries.

“Once people reach the north, it’s like a ping-pong game. They send them back south,” Mujica said.

“A huge number of people were saying they were creating a time bomb by the number of people they sent,” Mujica said. “Today the time bomb went off.”

Migrants are stranded in Ciudad Jaurés because US immigration policy does not allow them to cross the border to apply for asylum. However, residents of Ciudad Juarez were rounded up because they were fed up with immigrants blocking border crossings and demanding money.

Strong dissatisfaction in Ciudad Juárez came after hundreds of migrants, mostly Venezuelans, were forced to cross one of the international bridges leading to El Paso earlier this month based on erroneous rumors that the United States would allow them to enter Venezuela. It became clear when I tried to cross. US authorities blocked their attempt.

The mayor of Ciudad Juárez, Cruz Pérez Cuellar, has since launched a campaign to inform migrants that there are vacancies in shelters and that there is no need to beg on the streets. He urged residents not to hand over the money, saying that the authorities found begging dangerous and would evict them from intersections where residents deemed it a nuisance.

For immigrants, fires are another tragedy on the long road of tears.

About 100 migrants gathered outside the doors of the immigration facility on Tuesday to seek information about their relatives. In many cases, they asked the same questions Mexico is asking itself.

Katiuszka Marquez, a 23-year-old Venezuelan woman with two children aged 2 and 4, was looking for her half-brother Orlando Maldonado, who was traveling with her.

“I want to know if he’s alive or dead,” she said. She wondered how all the guards inside survived and only the immigrants died.


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Written by Natalia Chi

Chicago Popular; Chicago breaking news, weather and live video. Covering local politics, health, traffic and sports for Chicago, the suburbs and northwest Indiana.

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