At Least 40 Migrants Killed in Preventable Tragedy at a Detention Center in Ciudad Juárez

screen grab of CCTV video released by Mexico’s National Institute of Migration

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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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.”

Women in Texas at the National Women's March, rallying against deadly abortion restrictions.
Lucy Flores

The landscape of abortion rights in the United States has become more restrictive than ever in recent history, particularly in Arizona and Florida, where recent developments represent a major setback for women’s reproductive rights. On April 9, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled in a 4-to-2 decision to uphold an 1864 law banning abortion from the moment of conception. The only exception is saving the mother’s life, but there are no exceptions for rape or incest under this law.

Just a few days earlier, on April 1, the Florida Supreme Court also ruled in favor of upholding a 6-week abortion ban, which will take effect on May 1. This further reduced the legal threshold for abortions in Florida, which used to be 24 weeks of pregnancy before Republicans passed a law in 2022 banning abortions after 15 weeks. Both of these rulings have sparked intense debate and outrage about their impact on women’s rights.

Overview of the Near-Total Abortion Ban in Arizona

The Arizona Supreme Court voted to uphold an 1864 law, a law passed even before the state officially was a part of the United States of America, that makes all types of abortion illegal, including medication abortion, from the moment of conception. Though there are exceptions in cases where the mother’s life is at risk, the ban makes no exceptions for cases of rape or incest and imposes severe penalties, including imprisonment, on medical professionals performing abortions.

Medical professionals have spoken out about how dire the situation will become for women with this near-total abortion ban. Dr. Jill Gibson, chief medical director of Planned Parenthood in Arizona, told CNN that this ruling will have “absolutely unbelievable consequences for the patients in our community.” She continued by saying, “Providers need to be able to take care of their patients without fear of legal repercussions and criminalization.”

Representatives from Arizona and other states across the country have also spoken up against this near-total abortion ban.

Video by Shontel Brown Member of the United States House of Representatives on InstagramVideo by Shontel Brown Member of the United States House of Representatives on Instagram


Image by Rub\u00e9n Gallego Member of the United States House of Representatives on InstagramImage by Rubén Gallego Member of the United States House of Representatives on InstagramImage by Rubén Gallego Member of the United States House of Representatives on Instagram

Until this Arizona Supreme Court decision, abortion had been legal in the state up to 15 weeks of pregnancy. The right to abortion via Roe v. Wade prevented the enforcement of the near-total abortion ban, but since a majority vote in the Supreme Court of the United States overturned Roe, those opposed to abortion rights had been fighting to enforce the 160-year-old 1864 law.

This new abortion ban in Arizona is not effective immediately as the court has paused its ruling for 14 days until additional arguments are heard in a lower court about how constitutional the law is. However, the law will likely come into effect in May, a few weeks from now. Planned Parenthood Arizona, the largest abortion provider in the state, will continue serving the community until the ban is enforced.

An Overview of Florida's Six-Week Abortion Ban

The landscape of abortion in Florida has also undergone a significant change with the enforcement of a 6-week abortion ban, replacing the previous 15-week limit. This ban, similar to Arizona's, severely restricts access to abortion care and poses a significant challenge to reproductive rights in the state. Providers are bracing for a public health crisis due to the increased demand for abortion and limited options for patients.

Practically speaking, a 6-week abortion ban is a near-total abortion ban because pregnant people often don’t even realize they could be pregnant by this early stage. Combined with Florida’s strict abortion requirements, which include mandatory in-person doctor visits with a 24-hour waiting period, it’s nearly impossible for those who may want an abortion to be able to access it before 6 weeks. Not to mention that fulfilling the requirements is particularly challenging for low-income individuals.

Video by theluncheonlawyer on InstagramVideo by theluncheonlawyer on Instagram

Moreover, this Florida law also restricts telemedicine for abortion and requires that medication be provided in person, effectively eliminating mail-order options for abortion pills. While exceptions for rape and incest exist in Florida, the requirements are also strict, asking victims to provide police records or medical records. For victims who don’t always report sexual violence for many different reasons, these exceptions don’t make a difference.

The consequences of Florida’s ban extend to neighboring states with more restrictive abortion laws. For instance, residents of Alabama, facing a total ban on abortion, and Georgia, with its own 6-week abortion ban, have relied on Florida for abortion services. That will no longer be an option, further limiting care alternatives.

The Road Ahead

These recent abortion bans in Arizona and Florida are a major setback for women's rights, particularly impacting Latina women who already face barriers to accessing quality healthcare. These bans not only restrict women’s reproductive freedom but also endanger their lives.

Efforts to challenge these bans through legal means and ballot measures are ongoing, but the road ahead is uncertain. While there’s hope for overturning these abortion bans, the challenges of conservative laws and legal battles are formidable. The November ballot in both states will be crucial in determining the future of abortion rights and access for all.

graphic design highlighting Dolores Huerta 94 birthday, the iconic civil rights activist and labor leader.

Today, Dolores Huerta, one of the most important Latino icons within civil rights, is turning 94 years old. This occasion is the perfect opportunity to celebrate not only her robust life but also her immense contributions as a social justice champion. Huerta is a living legend whose tireless efforts have helped transform the landscape of civil rights, feminism, labor rights, farmworkers’ rights, and even environmental justice.

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