Current News



Migrants fearing deportation set fire that killed at least 39, Mexico's president says

Kate Linthicum, Leila Miller and Gabriela Minjares, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico — At least 39 migrants were killed and dozens more were injured Monday night when a fire broke out in an immigrant detention center in Mexico, just south of the U.S. border, authorities said Tuesday.

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said the blaze in Ciudad Juarez began when migrants ignited mattresses after they found out they were going to be deported to their home countries. He said most of the dead were from Central and South America.

“They never imagined that it would cause this terrible misfortune,” López Obrador said.

A Mexican federal official with knowledge of the case who spoke on the condition of anonymity said the migrants were protesting because 68 of them were packed into a cell meant for no more than 50 people and they had no access to drinking water.

The fire, which erupted at a National Migration Institute lockup about 400 feet south of the Rio Bravo, which separates Juarez from El Paso, was one of the deadliest incidents ever recorded at an immigration holding center in Mexico.

It triggered an immediate outcry from migrant advocates, who blamed the deaths on a series of ever-more stringent immigration policies in both the United States and Mexico.


It also raised questions about Mexico’s ability to care for and manage migrants as the U.S. prepares to roll out a new policy that would turn back an even larger number of asylum seekers this summer.

Already, northern Mexican cities have been overwhelmed with migrants because of recent Biden administration policies that limit the ability of migrants from four countries to to seek asylum at the border.

Tensions have been particularly high in Ciudad Juarez, where shelters housing people hoping to cross into the United States are overflowing and stranded migrants have been begging for food and money in the streets.

“We have exceeded our capacity to provide attention,” said Miguel Angel Gonzalez, president of a church-based network of shelters in Juarez. He said his network’s 15 shelters have been completely full for the last six months.


swipe to next page

©2023 Los Angeles Times. Visit at Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


blog comments powered by Disqus