40 Migrants Killed in Juarez Fire

Migrants took part in a vigil outside the migrant center where a deadly fire occurred. | Image by Ruben2533/Shutterstock

Thirty-nine unlawful migrants were killed on Monday and 28 more were injured when, while apparently protesting their deportation from the United States, they lit mattresses on fire.

The deceased were all from Central and South America, with Guatemalans representing the majority of the group.

Mexico’s president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, pledged to investigate the deaths and offered condolences.

“I want to report something very unfortunate, very sad. Last night, around 9:30 at night, a fire broke out in a migrant shelter on the border, in Ciudad Juárez and we have, until now, as a report that they lost their lives 39 migrants,” Obrador told reporters at a press conference in Mexico City.

The Juárez, Mexico, detention center is only a short distance from the U.S. border and adjacent to Juárez’s city hall.

On March 9, over 30 migrant shelters and migrant advocacy organizations published a letter alleging improper treatment of unlawful migrants in Juárez, as reported by AP News. The letter accused Mexican police of utilizing excessive and abusive force in collecting unlawful migrants as well as questioning people’s immigration status without cause.

The tragedy this week underscored tensions between police and migrants in Juarez, highlighting the strain both Mexican and U.S. authorities are under as they attempt to process tens of thousands of unlawful migrants through crowded facilities.

U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-TX), whose district includes El Paso, tweeted her response to the tragedy, decrying the crisis and acknowledging the risks unlawful migrants are facing:

“More than 38 souls were lost in Juarez — people who were waiting and hoping for a shot at a better life. This refugee crisis has put vulnerable people at great risk every step of the way.”

“Every nation in this hemisphere — from the countries these souls are fleeing, to the ones they are seeking asylum in, and all those along the way — has an obligation to work together to preserve human life and dignity,” she added in a second tweet.

The Dallas Express contacted U.S. Customs & Border Patrol’s media office in Washington, D.C., but did not receive a response by the time of this article’s publication.

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