What happened in the migrant center fire in Ciudad Juarez?
(CNN Spanish) – Mexico’s attorney general is investigating a fire at a station of the National Institute of Migration in Ciudad Juarez that broke out Monday night and killed at least 39 of the 68 people who were being held at the center, according to updated figures. . from the government, while the United Nations denounces the “extensive use of immigration detention” in the country. This is what is known so far about the tragedy.
Who was arrested at the Ciudad Juarez Immigration Center?
The National Institute of Migration (INM) reported on Tuesday that 68 migrants of different nationalities from Central and South America are being held in temporary residence in Ciudad Juárez where the deadly fire broke out. The majority were from Guatemala (28 nationals), followed by Honduras (13), Venezuela (13), El Salvador (12), Ecuador (1) and Colombia (1).
Of this total, 39 migrants have died and 27 have been injured, Mexico’s Minister of Citizen Security, Rosa Ichilla Rodriguez, said at a press conference on Wednesday night.
Authorities announce arrest warrants
Mexican authorities announced Wednesday evening that they would be issuing arrest warrants for the alleged perpetrators.
In a much-anticipated news conference, Mexico’s Minister of Security and Citizen Protection, Rosa Ichilla Rodriguez, indicated that eight people have been identified who may be responsible for the events, including two federal agents, a state immigration agent, and five private officials. Security company. He added that they are already making their ministerial statements.
“We condemn the poor performance of public servants who did not abide by the protection of life and civil protection protocols,” Rodriguez said.
For her part, Irene Herrerias Guerra, Chief Prosecutor Specialized in Human Rights, announced the request for an oral court session to request arrest warrants for “the alleged perpetrator who started the fire, public servants and private security guards.
Later, Herrias explained that the person allegedly responsible for starting the fire and for whom an arrest warrant would be issued was an immigrant who could be “located”.
The migrants protested because they were about to be “deported,” according to AMLO
Although the cause of the fire was not disclosed by the National Institute of Migration, which said an investigation had already begun, Mexico’s president, Andres Manuel López Obrador, confirmed on Tuesday that the fire started after a protest by migrants.
According to López Obrador, the immigrants were angry at the officials and demonstrated against their deportation.
“This had to do with the protest they started from, we suppose, after they found out they were going to be deported and mobilized and as a protest at the door of the shelter they put mattresses in the shelter and set them on fire.
Video recorded outside the center shows first responders helping survivors, wrapping them in silver thermal blankets, before placing them on stretchers and into ambulances.
It has also been noted that they removed inert or lifeless bodies from the building. Some of the bodies of the victims were covered in soot, laid next to each other in a row.
The Iraqi National Movement said it strongly rejects “the events that led to this tragedy,” adding that an investigation is underway. CNN has reached out to Mexican immigration authorities for comment on the fire.
National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) of Mexico reported it “A thorough investigation has been launched into the events that occurred, as well as into the conditions of the Iraqi National Movement’s facilities where the incident occurred and protocols have been activated in case of emergency.”
Eyewitnesses say the doors were not open
Video from a security camera in the center shows the moment the fire started. Some people are seen in the photos trying to escape the flames behind bars.
Viangeli Infante, a 31-year-old Venezuelan woman who was an eyewitness to the tragedy and whose husband was trapped inside the building and injured in the fire, spoke to Reuters news agency about the tragedy. She blamed the Mexican authorities and claimed that the detention center doors had not yet opened as she fought back tears.
“At 10 at night we started seeing smoke coming from all sides, everyone ran away, but they left the men locked up. They were all taken out of the area, but the men were locked up. They never opened the door,” said Infante, a Venezuelan national.
Her husband, Edward Caraballo, 27, was inside the detention center and survived by spraying himself with water, according to Infante, who said he saw many corpses. Reuters reported that he was taken to hospital with breathing problems.
Another Venezuelan migrant, Emilio Jose, who was looking for his wife, told Reuters he had not been given any information about her whereabouts. “Although we are illegal or undocumented, we are human beings and we feel it. Look what happened; some people were injured and are suffering the consequences of what happened.”
The United States is ready to receive infected immigrants
The agency said in a statement that US Customs and Border Protection will grant conditional release to people who need to receive emergency medical care in the country after the fire at the immigration center.
The statement said the agency was in contact with the Office of Emergency Management in El Paso and was ready to deal with immigrants who were injured in the fire.
Mexico will issue visitor cards to infected immigrants.
“The Migration Authority will provide humanitarian visitor cards for those injured and will cover medical requirements for a speedy recovery,” said Francesco Gardoneo, Commissioner of the National Institute of Migration, during a visit to local hospitals where migrants are being treated.
The fire is one of the worst in recent years in Mexico, which has seen record levels of irregular crossings on its northern border as people try to reach the United States.
The number of migrants at the US-Mexico border has been on the rise since last year, with increasing numbers of migrants from Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua and Colombia, many fleeing repressive governments and strong economic pressures.
Migrant Jose Perez, from Venezuela, reacts during a vigil outside the Mexican immigration facility where at least 38 migrants died during a fire, in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state, on March 28, 2023, Mexico. (Photo credit: GUILLERMO ARIAS/AFP via Getty Images)
El Salvador condemns the actions of the staff of the immigration center in Ciudad Juarez
El Salvador Chancellery condemned in a statement Actions of the personnel managing the immigration station in Ciudad Juárez during the fire. In addition, in the statement, the government of President Najib Bukele demanded a thorough investigation and prosecution of those responsible.
UN Alerts on ‘Extensive Use of Migrant Detention’
The UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, Felipe González Morales, condemned the “excessive use of migrant detention” in Mexico after what happened.
“The massive use of immigration detention leads to tragedies like this one,” he wrote. “The immigration detention of adults should, under international law, be an exceptional measure rather than a generalized one.”
In another tweet he sent in response to a letter from the Miguel Agustin Pro Juárez Center for Human Rights: “States rarely or never admit that they practice immigration detention, instead using expressions such as housing, insurance, housing etc for style but when there is deprivation of liberty There shall be no detention.”
The message of the Broude Center – as that organization is also known – had stated that “immigrants were deprived of their freedom by the authorities, and therefore the state is the guarantor of their lives.”
— With information from Gerardo Lemos, Omar Astorga, Ray Rodriguez and Carol Suarez, from CNN.