After migrants in northern Mexico set a mattress on the bars of a detention center and set it on fire, guards quickly left and made no attempt to free the man before smoke filled the room and killed at least 38 people. rice field. Surveillance video showed on Tuesday.
Hours after the fire broke out late Monday, bodies crossed the U.S. border from El Paso, Texas, outside the immigration detention facility in Ciudad Juárez, a major transit point for immigrants, under shimmering silver sheets. columns were sorted.
According to the National Institute for Immigration, 29 people were injured and are in “delicate to serious” condition.
According to the agency, 68 men from Latin America were being held at the facility at the time of the fire.
In the video, two people dressed as guards burst into the camera frame, and at least one immigrant appears by a metal gate on the other side. Within seconds, the building was engulfed in billowing clouds of smoke, and they fled.
Mexico’s interior secretary, Adan Augusto López, confirmed the video’s authenticity in an interview with local journalist Joaquín López Driga.
Immigration officials identified the dead and injured as being from Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Venezuela, Colombia and Ecuador, the Mexican attorney general’s office said in a statement. Guatemalan Foreign Minister Mario Bucaro said 28 of the dead were Guatemalan citizens.
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said migrants had started a fire in protest after learning of the deportation.
“They never imagined this would cause this terrible misfortune,” Lopez Obrador said.
Chihuahua state prosecutor Cesar Jauregui told reporters the death forced the government to rent a refrigerated trailer to store the bodies of migrants.
The detention facility is located opposite Juarez City Hall.
At a nearby hospital, Viangly Infante Padrón, a 31-year-old Venezuelan immigrant seeking asylum in the United States with her husband and three children, waited for her husband, who was being treated for smoke inhalation. The night before, she was waiting for his release outside the detention center when a fire broke out.
“There was smoke everywhere. What they released was a woman and an immigration officer,” she said.
She saw several corpses before finding her husband in the ambulance. “I was desperate because there was no corpse, corpse, corpse, and he was nowhere to be seen.”
Prior to this, about 100 migrants gathered outside the doors of immigration facilities on Tuesday to demand information about their relatives.
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. Couldn’t they get them out?”
The authorities did not immediately answer the question.
Marquez and Maldonado were detained Monday along with about 20 other people. They were in Juarez waiting for an asylum appointment from US authorities. They stayed in rented rooms inhabited by his 10 and were paid by begging on the streets.
“I was at the traffic lights with cardboards asking for the children’s needs. People helped me with food,” she said. Suddenly agents came and took everyone into custody.
All were taken to immigration facilities, but only the men were put in solitary confinement. After three hours, the women and children were released.
Tensions between authorities and migrants in Ciudad Juarez appear to have increased in recent weeks. Shelters are full of people waiting for an opportunity to travel to the United States or for the asylum process to begin.
More than 30 migrant shelters and other advocacy groups issued an open letter on March 9 calling for the criminalization of immigrants and asylum seekers in the city. 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.
Frustration high in Ciudad Juarez it was clear Earlier this month, hundreds of migrants, mostly Venezuelans, tried to cross one of the international bridges to El Paso based on false rumors that the United States would allow them to enter Venezuela. US authorities blocked their attempt.
The mayor of Juárez, Cruz Pérez Cuellar, then launched a campaign to inform migrants that there were vacancies in shelters and that there was no need to beg on the streets. He urged residents not to give them money and said the authorities would evict them from intersections where begging was considered dangerous and a nuisance to residents.
Immigration advocates who recently denounced more aggressive tactics said immigration facilities were overcrowded and the fire sites were small and poorly ventilated.
“You could see it coming,” said a supporter’s statement. “Mexico’s immigration policy is killing people.”
The National Immigration Service said Tuesday without further explanation that it “strongly rejects the actions that have led to this tragedy.”
Felipe Gonzalez Morales, UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants, said on Twitter: “The widespread use of immigration detention leads to such tragedies.” In line with international law, immigration detention should be an exceptional measure, not a generalization, he wrote.
Overcrowding, protests and riots have occasionally occurred at Mexican immigration facilities.
In October, a group of mostly Venezuelan immigrants rioted inside an immigration center in Tijuana. In November, dozens of migrants rioted at Mexico’s largest detention center in the southern city of Tapachula, near the border with Guatemala. No one died in either incident.
Mexico has emerged as the world’s third most popular destination for asylum seekers, after the United States and Germany. But there are still many countries through which immigrants to the United States pass.
Asylum seekers must remain in the state they applied for in Mexico, resulting in many being trapped near the country’s southern border with Guatemala. Tens of thousands are in border cities.
Bishop Mons at Mass in memory of the immigrants. José Guadalupe Torres Campos lamented the sudden grief that befell immigrant communities.
“Everybody’s screaming, screaming is enough. So much pain, so much death, enough,” he said.
Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this article stated that 40 immigrants were killed. That number was reduced to 38 him by the Mexican authorities.