Migrants protest on southern Mexico border after fire at migrant center

San Cristobal de Las Casas/Tapachula, Mexico, Mar 29 (EFE).- Migrants and activists protested on Wednesday in Mexico’s southern border state of Chiapas after a fire took the lives of 39 migrants at a National Migration Institute (INM) facility in Ciudad Juarez, on the US border.

In San Cristobal de Las Casas, demonstrators demanded the resignation of INM chief Francisco Garduño and a change in Mexico’s immigration policy to prevent more migrant deaths.

“For years, we’ve been demanding justice for different human rights violations. Today, in particular, we’re demanding justice over the fire and the National Migration Institute’s act of omission where it (failed) migrant comrades,” David Morales, a representative of the Southern Border Monitoring Collective, told EFE.

The migrants put up signs with phrases like “Complete closure of immigration detention sites,” “No person is illegal” and “Basta with the increase in massacres and disappearances.”

“For years, we’ve also been saying, above all starting during the pandemic, that these places have no prevention mechanisms or safety strategies and that’s just what happened,” Morales said.

The demonstrators questioned the Mexican government’s version of the incident, which blamed the migrants at the center for the fire and said that the facility was a “shelter.”

Maricela Sandybell Reyes, with the Mesoamerican Woman in Action with Migrant Peoples, said that “Mexico’s migration policies are migration policies of death, they’re … detentions and deportation of migrants.”

The collectives said that the presence of migrants in Mexico has increased in recent months after the United States announced the immediate deportation of migrants from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela under Title 42.

Another 10 organizations demonstrated in Tapachula, on Mexico’s border with Guatemala, saying that the INM’s migrant centers are a form of “torture.”

At that demonstration, some migrants escaped from a bus that was taking them to the Siglo XXI migrant center.

Arturo Antonio, a migrant from Honduras who managed to get out of the bus, said that he was in Ciudad Juarez in the past at the temporary center where the 39 migrants died.

He said that there are no beds at that center, the bathrooms are unhealthy and there’s no water or food that would allow people to remain there.

“We got out of the (bus) because they were going to lock us up and deport us to Honduras. We’re afraid of being locked up at the Siglo XXI migration center. I saw what happened in Juarez,” he said.

Olman Adonai, another migrant from Honduras, also fled the bus out of fear of being held at the center.

“That’s not a shelter, the food is no good. It’s more like a prison and so we didn’t want to go there,” he said.

Enrique Vidal, with the Fray Matias de Cordova Human Rights Center, said that the migrant centers in Mexico must be closed because it’s been verified that there are cells and people are being mistreated there.

“These installations are illegal in that they don’t recognize that depriving people of freedom must conform to international standards,” he added.

EFE –/bp

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