Migrants protesting against their deportation started a fire that claimed the lives of 39 people. The fire broke out on Monday evening just before midnight at a detention center in Mexico near the US border, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said.
“They put mats against the door of the shelter and set it on fire. They could never have imagined the tragedy it would cause,” he said on Tuesday.
Firefighters and dozens of ambulances were deployed to the National Migration Institute (INM) facility in Ciudad Juarez.
An AFP reporter saw forensic staff remove twelve bodies from the INM’s parking lot. There were several other bodies covered with blankets.
“The INM of the Ministry of Interior regrets the death of at least 39 migrants,” says a statement by INM.
A rescue official who spoke to the press on condition of anonymity said there were around 70 migrants, mainly from Venezuela, at the centre.
Many migrants have been detained at the center for the past few days after authorities cracked down on hawkers in the area.
A woman from Venezuela, known only as Viangly, stood outside the center. She is anxious to hear news about her 27-year-old husband who was in custody there.
“He was taken away in an ambulance,” she told AFP. Her husband has documents that will allow him to stay in Mexico.
“They [die migrasiebeamptes] don’t tell anyone anything. A family member can die and they won’t tell you he’s dead,” she added.
The army and national guard were deployed to the scene on Tuesday morning.
Ciudad Juarez, located next to El Paso, Texas, is one of the border towns where several undocumented migrants, seeking refuge in the US, remain stranded.
Hundreds of the migrants, who did not want to wait any longer, stormed an international bridge on March 13, but were stopped by American agents.
US President Joe Biden’s administration has sought to curb the record influx of migrants and asylum seekers who often embark on perilous journeys organized by people smugglers to gain entry to the US. Biden proposed new restrictions on asylum seekers in February. According to the new rules, migrants who arrive at the border and simply cross the border into the US may no longer be eligible for asylum. They must first apply for asylum in the country they are traveling through before they arrive at the border, or apply online through a US government app.
About 200,000 people try to cross the border from Mexico to the US every month.
A recent report by the International Organization for Migration indicated that around 7,661 migrants have disappeared or died on their way to the US since 2014. A total of 988 died in accidents or while traveling in inhuman conditions.
Leave a Reply