CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico — Migrants fearing deportation set mattresses ablaze at an immigration detention heart in northern Mexico, beginning a hearth that killed a minimum of 40 individuals, the president mentioned Tuesday, in one of many deadliest occasions ever at a Mexican immigration lockup.
Twenty-nine individuals had been injured and had been in “delicate-serious” situation, in line with the Nationwide Immigration Institute.
On the time of the blaze, 68 males from Central and South America had been being held on the facility, the company mentioned.
Immigration authorities recognized the useless and injured as being from Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Venezuela, Colombia and Ecuador, in line with an announcement from the Mexican legal professional common’s workplace. Guatemala Overseas Affairs Minister Mario Búcaro mentioned 28 of the useless had been Guatemalan residents.
Mexico President Andrés Manuel López Obrador mentioned the fireplace was began by migrants in protest after studying they might be deported.
“They by no means imagined that this is able to trigger this horrible misfortune,” López Obrador mentioned.
The deaths pressured the federal government to hire refrigerated trailers to carry the migrants’ our bodies, Chihuahua state prosecutor Cesar Jáuregui informed reporters.
The detention facility is throughout the road from Juarez’s metropolis corridor.
At a close-by hospital, Viangly Infante Padrón, a 27-year-old Venezuelan migrant in search of asylum within the U.S. along with her husband and three youngsters, waited for her husband, who was being handled for smoke inhalation. The earlier night, she was ready outdoors the detention heart for his launch when the fireplace broke out.
“There was smoke in every single place. Those they let loose had been the ladies, and people (workers) with immigration,” she mentioned. “The lads, they by no means took them out till the firefighters arrived.”
She noticed a number of useless our bodies earlier than discovering her husband in an ambulance. “I used to be determined as a result of I noticed a useless physique, a physique, a physique, and I didn’t see him wherever.”
Earlier, about 100 migrants gathered Tuesday outdoors the immigration facility’s doorways to demand details about family.
Katiuska Márquez, a 23-year-old Venezuelan lady along with her two youngsters, ages 2 and 4, was in search of her half-brother, Orlando Maldonado, who had been touring along with her.
“We wish to know if he’s alive or if he’s useless,” she mentioned. She puzzled how all of the guards who had been inside made it out alive and solely the migrants died. “How might they not get them out?”
Authorities didn’t instantly reply that query, however López Obrador had mentioned the migrants piled the mattresses in a doorway.
Márquez and Maldonado had been detained Monday with the kids and about 20 others. They’d been in Juarez ready for an appointment from U.S. authorities to request asylum. They had been staying in a rented room the place 10 individuals had been residing, paying for it with the cash they begged on the street.
“I used to be at a stoplight with a chunk of cardboard asking for what I wanted for my youngsters, and folks had been serving to me with meals,” she mentioned. Immediately brokers got here and detained everybody.
Everybody was taken to the immigration facility however solely the boys had been positioned within the cells. Three hours later, the ladies and youngsters had been launched.
Tensions between authorities and migrants had apparently been operating excessive in current weeks in Ciudad Juarez, the place shelters are full of individuals ready for alternatives to cross into the U.S. or for the asylum course of to play out.
Greater than 30 migrant shelters and different advocacy organizations revealed an open letter March 9 that complained of a criminalization of migrants and asylum seekers within the metropolis. It accused authorities of abusing migrants and utilizing extreme pressure in rounding them up, together with complaints that municipal police questioned individuals on the street about their immigration standing with out trigger.
The excessive stage of frustration in Ciudad Juarez was evident earlier this month when a whole bunch of largely Venezuelan migrants tried to pressure their means throughout one of many worldwide bridges to El Paso, appearing on false rumors that the USA would permit them to enter the nation. U.S. authorities blocked their makes an attempt.
After that, Juarez Mayor Cruz Pérez Cuellar began campaigning to tell migrants there was room in shelters and no must beg within the streets. He urged residents to not give cash to them and mentioned authorities would take away them from intersections the place it was harmful to beg and allegedly a nuisance to residents.
Migrant advocates who lately denounced extra aggressive techniques mentioned Tuesday that the immigration facility was over capability and that the positioning of the fireplace was small and lacked air flow.
“You can see it coming,” the advocates’ assertion mentioned. “Mexico’s immigration coverage kills.”
The nationwide immigration company mentioned Tuesday that it “energetically rejects the actions that led to this tragedy” with none additional clarification.
The “intensive use of immigration detention results in tragedies like this one,” Felipe González Morales, the United Nations particular rapporteur for human rights of migrants, mentioned through Twitter. In line with worldwide legislation, immigration detention ought to be an distinctive measure and never generalized, he wrote.
Mexico’s immigration lockups have seen overcrowding, protests and riots once in a while.
In October, a gaggle of largely Venezuelan migrants rioted inside an immigration heart in Tijuana. In November, dozens of migrants rioted in Mexico’s largest detention heart within the southern metropolis of Tapachula close to the border with Guatemala. Nobody died in both incident.
Mexico has emerged because the world’s third hottest vacation spot for asylum-seekers, after the USA and Germany. However it’s nonetheless largely a rustic that migrants cross by way of on their method to the U.S.
Asylum-seekers should keep within the state the place they apply in Mexico, leading to massive numbers being holed up close to the nation’s southern border with Guatemala. Tens of hundreds are additionally in border cities.
In the meantime, at a Mass celebrated in reminiscence of the migrants, Bishop Mons. José Guadalupe Torres Campos lamented the sudden grief that had descended upon the migrant group.
“The shout, the cry of everyone seems to be sufficient, sufficient of a lot ache, sufficient of a lot dying,” he mentioned.
Verza reported from Mexico Metropolis. Related Press videojournalist Alicia Fernández and author Guadalupe Peñuelas in Ciudad Juarez, Mark Stevenson in Mexico Metropolis and writers Sonia Pérez D. in Guatemala Metropolis and Elliot Spagat in San Diego contributed to this report.