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The precariousness of the centers for migrants in Mexico is evident with the fire in Ciudad Juárez


Overcrowding, poor ventilation and lack of emergency exits are some of the most striking failures that, according to experts, contributed to the tragedy in which 39 people died.

The fire at the Ciudad Juárez immigration station on Monday night that killed 39 men and injured 28 has drawn attention to the precarious condition of the facility where more than 80 people were held before the tragedy, including 15 women who were unharmed.

"Inside that place is worse than a prison

," Jesús, a Venezuelan migrant who lost his 24-year-old friend Óscar, said Thursday before the Telemundo News cameras.

"He left Venezuela with the same goal that we all have."

Images from before the fire show a group of detainees in a room littered with mattresses and scraps of newspaper on the floor.

Moments later, smoke invaded the compound and the migrants kicked the bars without success to try to escape.

Interior of the Ciudad Juárez immigration center hours before the deadly fire on March 27, 2023.Noticias Telemundo

A Venezuelan migrant who was detained hours before the tragedy in the women's area of ​​that center, in a different place from where the men were separated, told Telemundo News that she was surprised to see that those facilities had no windows.

“It was very hot, it is really uncomfortable to be in a place without air because one feels imprisoned.

But the men fared worse, because they were locked up there with a fence and many burned alive, poor things, ”explained Doralvys, who is a native of Lara state and asked to remain anonymous for security reasons.

["I was going to die of the fever": mother tells how the protest started before the fire on the border]

Another woman who said she had worked as a cleaning staff at the Ciudad Juárez station, and identified herself only as María to avoid reprisals, denounced ill-treatment of the inmates there.

“I came to see all the negligence of the immigration officers with the detainees, both with the men and women: they treated them very badly,” she stated in an interview with Noticias Telemundo.

Overwhelmed and under-resourced

Experts and activists consulted by Noticias Telemundo affirmed that the immigration centers in Mexico are overwhelmed by the large number of people they must attend to and the lack of resources assigned by the authorities.

According to them, what happened in Ciudad Juárez is proof of those problems.

“The bad conditions are similar in all the facilities.

The Juárez station has no ventilation, the windows are very small, and there is no air conditioning either.

On a recent visit we were able to identify that there were no emergency exits.

In general, immigration stations continue to be overcrowded in the country,” explained Alejandra Macías, executive director of Asylum Access, in a telephone interview.

Migrants sleep next to an altar for the victims of the fire at the detention center in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, on March 30, 2023. JOSE LUIS GONZALEZ / REUTERS

In the opinion of Dr. Luicy Pedroza, a professor at the Center for International Studies at El Colegio de México, the Mexican authorities have not invested enough resources to attend to a growing migrant population in border cities, as a result of the immigration policies of the United States. United States that increasingly sends migrants of more nationalities back to Mexico.

"Instead of alleviating conditions at the border, recent migration agreements between North American governments have exacerbated underlying problems, and

what we saw in Ciudad Juárez is one of the consequences.

It's not the first time a tragedy has happened, either. of this type," said Pedroza, referring to a protest in March 2020 in which a migrant died at the Tenosique station, Tabasco.

In 2019, a report from the National Human Rights Commission warned about the physical conditions of immigration facilities in Mexico.

In that document, the commission stressed that overcrowding interfered with the dignified treatment of the people housed in the spaces guarded by the authorities and explained that "the right to dignified treatment implies the need to have adequate places where one has, in addition to space enough, food, bedrooms, bathrooms”, as well as recreational and sports activities.

[This young Latino was detained hours before in the immigration center where he died]

"Not having the necessary elements for an adequate stay is incompatible with respect for human dignity," the document warned.

Now, the authorities are investigating whether the detention center complied with civil protection protocols in case of an emergency and other basic information such as who had the keys to the cell and the conditions in which the foreigners were detained.

Protesters in Juárez demand justice

Amid the drama and despair over the deaths of 39 people in Ciudad Juárez, dozens of families protested outside the center's facilities on Thursday and thousands more rushed to the United States ports of entry, amid rumors that they were being attacked. letting in

“They told us to go here, that they were going to let us pass and, in particular, they were going to give priority to women with children, but when we got here we realized that everything is a lie,” said Esther, a Venezuelan mother who had traveled two months to reach the border.

But US border authorities let only a small group of migrants through Thursday as others watched in bewilderment as they crossed the massive chain-link fence that divides the two countries.

"Let it not go unpunished": migrants ask for justice for the death of 39 people in a detention center

March 30, 202301:35

The worst crisis in years

Northern Mexico has become the epicenter of the arrival of migrants from all over the world, and with a special emphasis on Latin American countries, only in fiscal year 2022 there were 2.76 million undocumented immigrants detained at the border of the United States. Joined. 

This year, the presence of migrants in the area has intensified since the United States announced new measures, including the immediate deportation of migrants from Haiti, Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba who arrive illegally under Title 42.

The Mexican government has also faced criticism from human rights organizations for accepting US policies and deploying more than 20,000 agents of the Armed Forces at the borders for immigration tasks.

“The reality is that we do not have the dimensions of each and every one of the immigration stations to be able to determine their capacity.

That makes it very easy for the immigration authority to create situations of overcrowding in those places,” explained Lorena Cano, coordinator of the legal clinic of the Institute for Women in Migration, a civil association that defends the rights of migrant women.

The agglomeration of migrants in Mexico is accelerating and points to incidents such as the one in Ciudad Juárez

March 30, 202301:51

According to Mexican civil organizations, 2022 was the most tragic year for migrants in Mexico, as nearly 900 died trying to cross without documents from the country to the United States.

However, migrants also face dangers in official Mexican government facilities.

For example, Cano said that he is representing the case of a girl who died in a immigration station due to medical negligence.

“There are temporary stations that do not have 24-hour medical service, so

we have had cases of deaths inside immigration facilities due to lack of medical care or negligence


Some cases have happened when there are doctors.

It is a very serious situation," Cano said. 

Source: telemundo

All news articles on 2023-03-31

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