At Least 40 Migrants Killed in Preventable Tragedy at a Detention Center in Ciudad Juárez
Tragedy struck on Monday night in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, where a fire broke out at a migrant detention center, leaving at least 40 migrants dead and at least 28 seriously injured.
According to reports from El Universal, immigration officials had been rounding up migrants who had been begging for money in the streets hours before the fire broke out. This action was apparently in response to citizen complaints about the migrants causing disturbances.
As reported by Los Angeles Times, a federal Mexican official stated that the migrants were protesting due to overcrowding and lack of access to basic necessities. The official stated that 68 individuals were confined to a cell meant for a maximum of 50 people and had been deprived of drinking water.
The victims were not detained for any criminal activities, but rather as part of Mexico's efforts to manage migration flows. Many of those who lost their lives had traveled from Central and South America hoping to reach the United States.
According to Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, the migrants were responsible for starting the fires at the facility. However, there are concerns that this statement may not be entirely accurate, given the possibility of conflicting video evidence.
Despite the uncertainty surrounding the origins of the fire, video footage has surfaced showing guards walking past the locked-up migrants during the incident without taking any action to help them.
This footage suggests that regardless of who started the fire, the guards neglected their duty to protect the individuals in their care. The failure to provide assistance to those trapped within the facility during the emergency raises serious questions about the level of care provided to detainees in these centers, which could amount to a violation of human rights.
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\u201cGuards at US-backed detention center in Ju\u00e1rez let migrants burn to death behind bars.\u201d— Max Granger (@Max Granger) 1680037981
Since March 2020, U.S. Border Patrol agents have turned away many people attempting to enter the country, including migrants seeking asylum, because of the federal emergency health order known as Title 42. This Trump-era policy has been renewed by the Biden Administration every 90 days and has allowed agents to use the policy more than 2.6 million times to turn away migrants at the southern border.
The Mexico migration institute confirmed that in addition to the 40 who died, 28 others were hospitalized after sustaining injuries. The Guatemalan national migration institute reported that 28 of the deceased were Guatemalans, while Honduras’ deputy foreign minister confirmed that 13 were from Honduras.
As investigations continue, there are calls for transparency and accountability regarding the events leading up to the tragic incident. The public and advocacy groups are demanding answers about the conditions that led to the fire and the actions of those responsible for the welfare of the detained migrants.
As reported by the Texas Tribune, immigrant rights advocacy groups on both sides of the border blasted the Biden and López Obrador administrations’ policies toward asylum-seeking migrants.
“The Biden administration’s increasingly aggressive posture on migration enforcement and deterrence first strategies at the border have pressured Mexican authorities to stem migration in an already overcrowded and under-resourced system resulting in fatal tragedies such as the one we witnessed last night,” the Hope Border Institute, a Catholic advocacy group that works with immigrants in El Paso and Juárez, said in a statement.
The group added: “Those who blame the victims of the fire obscure the reality that these deaths are an indictment of the policies and structures implemented at large by both governments.”