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"This fire is the result of the pressure cooker that Ciudad Juárez has become on the immigration issue," experts denounce


According to the latest official figures, there are close to 12,000 migrants in Ciudad Juárez and the official immigration facilities and shelters are overwhelmed. "We have no rights here, they treat us like dogs," said a migrant during a protest over the fire.

MEXICO CITY - Ciudad Juárez woke up shocked by the fire that, on Monday night, claimed the lives of at least 40 migrants, and left another 28 injured, in a facility of the National Institute of Migration.

"It's as if it had happened to me, it's as if they were our family because how do I go to sleep knowing that later on it could happen to me?" Frank Martín Pérez, a Venezuelan migrant who was protesting, said in an interview with Telemundo News. outside the facilities of the National Institute of Migration.

Migrants protest outside the facilities of the National Institute of Migration in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, on March 28, 2023. Christian Chavez / AP

The victims, who were being held in a center located on the Stanton-Lerdo International Bridge that connects the Mexican state of Chihuahua with the Texan city of El Paso, were adults from Central and South America, and were detained inside the premises, as explained in a statement by the INM. 

"The fear that gives me, and my colleagues, is that if we let this go and do not talk about it in front of the cameras, then something worse will come later. Because they did nothing wrong, the reality is that we have no rights here, they treat us like dogs," said Pérez on Monday morning. 

[At least 40 dead in a fire in a center of the National Institute of Migration in Ciudad Juárez]

The Government of the state of Chihuahua, where Ciudad Juárez is located, regretted the tragedy and indicated that it is working to provide assistance to the injured and their families.

He also specified that the fire started in an area where only men were detained, although 15 women in an adjoining area also had to be evacuated as a precaution, without being injured.

"This is the result of the pressure cooker that Ciudad Juárez has become on the immigration issue. According to the latest official figures, there are close to 12,000 migrants in the city alone and all the shelters and immigration facilities are overflowing. There are contingents very large numbers of Venezuelans, but also from Guatemala, Nicaragua and Cuba, among other countries," explains Eunice Rendón, academic and international consultant on migration issues.

The Guatemalan Migration Institute reported in a statement on Tuesday that at least 28 of the victims in the Ciudad Juárez fire were citizens of that country, and offered support to the families, among other things to repatriate the bodies.

The morning news, Tuesday March 28, 2023

March 28, 202305:52

"I want to know what they are going to do, because no one comes out to talk to us, no one from migration comes and they are responsible for the death of our brothers who burned to death and suffered," said Charlie, a Haitian migrant who participated in the protest in Juarez City.


Many ended up locked up in migration


Experts and activists consulted by Noticias Telemundo affirm that the intense migratory flow that for months has collapsed the refuges and the official migratory facilities of the city generates tensions.

"So far in the new fiscal year of the United States, it is estimated that close to 800,000 migrants have been detained by United States authorities and, at least, 60% have passed through Juárez. In the last five months it has become the main crossing point for irregular mobility between the two countries," explains José María Ramos, a researcher at El Colegio de la Frontera Norte.

[The fire at the Ciudad Juárez shelter started when migrants burned mattresses in protest of being deported: AMLO]

On March 12, hundreds of migrants attempted to cross the international bridge connecting Ciudad Juárez with El Paso en masse, after rumors spread that US immigration authorities would let them pass.

But the congregation turned to protest when the US authorities blocked their way.

"Our level of patience is running out," said Cruz Pérez Cuéllar, the municipal president of Ciudad Juárez, in a meeting with the press the next day.

"It was an action that does not benefit anyone, neither the migrants, nor the people of Juárez and El Paso, nor the authorities of any level of government. It was an irrational and senseless act," the official added.

According to migrants, who spoke on condition of anonymity, in the following days there were raids on hotels, shelters and other places in the city.

Human rights organizations wrote a letter this month in which they denounced a series of abuses committed by the immigration authorities and specified that on March 8, in a raid carried out on a hotel, the documents of the migrants who were there were destroyed.

Fire in a shelter in Ciudad Juárez claims the lives of at least 39 migrants

March 28, 202302:05

"The mayor removed the migrants from the bridge and from the river but he did not give them any other option, he only sent them to work and did not house them in a decent space. So they scattered everywhere and for this reason, the day before the fire they became raids and many ended up locked up in migration next to the bridge," explains Francisco Calvillo Salazar, director of Casa del Migrante, a shelter in Ciudad Juárez.

"Smoke came from everywhere"

Andrés Manuel López Obrador, president of Mexico, said in his morning conference that the migrants "as a protest, put mattresses from the shelter at the door of the shelter and set them on fire (...) They did not imagine that this was going to cause this terrible misfortune." .

However, experts and academics such as Emilio López, a researcher at the Autonomous University of Chihuahua,

do not agree with this assessment.

[Ciudad Juárez, the land where the dreams of so many migrants die: "Why did they deceive us, why?"]

"Without a doubt, it is the worst tragedy in immigration facilities in Chihuahua, it also shows that in Mexico there is a structural violation of the human rights of migrants, and a lot of negligence," López explains.

The academic also points out that, before any formal investigation, the media began to report that the fire was caused by the inmates: "It is a situation that remains under discussion because the people admitted are searched and stripped of belongings and artifacts that could damage their integrity, that is, how they started a fire if they even took the laces out of their shoes.

López insists that the immigration station where the fire broke out is characterized by not having windows "and only has restricted access under surveillance and the INM security system", risk conditions that had already been denounced by the National Human Rights Commission. .

At least 39 people die in a fire in an immigration center in Ciudad Juárez

March 28, 202302:27

"Smoke just came from everywhere and they took the women out, they took me out, and they left the men locked in there. I'm waiting to see if they tell me anything because the worst case is that they don't tell us anything," Viangly said. Infante, a migrant who was evicted from the facilities that night.

In statements to local media, Blanca Navarrete, director of Comprehensive Human Rights in Action in Ciudad Juárez, stated that the capacity of the immigration station was a maximum of 60 people, and the authorities confirmed that there were at least 68 people, including deaths, injuries and hospitalized.

"And additionally there were 12 women, which if we add this means that there were at least 80 people detained at that station. And therefore we are talking about overcrowded conditions," said Navarrete.

López agrees that the system of shelters and official facilities is overwhelmed in Ciudad Juárez.

He explains that, for example, the Integrator Center for Migrants has almost 700 people, the Kiki Romero shelter 380, and the same happens in the 32 spaces that exist in the city.

"They all have the capacities installed on the edge, and

that was no different in the immigration station, which is a place that should have a maximum capacity of 30 people

, and it is estimated that there were more than 60," explains the researcher.

According to Mexican civil organizations, 2022 was the most tragic year for migrants in Mexico, as some 900 died trying to cross into the United States.

The region is experiencing a record migratory flow, with 2.76 million undocumented immigrants detained at the United States border with Mexico in fiscal year 2022. 

"It is important to recognize that the person in charge of these migrants was the Mexican State. We will have to wait for the investigations, because some emergency protocol would have had to be followed to save the lives of these people and that did not go well," Rendón asserts. 

Source: telemundo

All news articles on 2023-03-28

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