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At Least 38 Migrants Reportedly Dead in Fatal Blaze at Migrant Center

At least 38 migrants died in Mexico at a migration center on the border in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, on Tuesday.  68 men from Central and South America were being housed at the facility at the time of the deadly blaze.  

According to Mexico’s President, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, the incident was the result of a protest sparked by the knowledge that the detained migrants would be deported as the result of pandemic-era public health restrictions that will expire in May.  Obrador spoke to the media, addressing the cause of the fire, saying that the detainees were informed of their deportation and “as a protest, they put mattresses from the shelter at the door of the shelter, and they set fire to them, and they did not imagine that this was going to cause this terrible accident.”  

Surveillance footage from the facility appeared to show guards calmly walking away, making no attempt to rescue the detainees as smoke filled the rooms of the migrant center.  Migrants were left locked behind bars as the flames rose.  

The center itself is located across the street from Juarez’s city hall.  Over 100 relatives of the men trapped in the facility gathered around it to gain information as to the whereabouts of their loved ones.  The scene surrounding them was unfortunately grim, considering the state had to rent a refrigeration trailer to house the bodies of migrants.

28 migrants were listed in “delicate, serious condition.”  

This tragic event has increased the pressure on US and Mexican officials to increase efforts to improve conditions for immigration to the US, as well as at facilities along the border.  The Biden administration has had to rely on the Trump administration’s  “Title 42,” which is the pandemic-era order which gave border officials the right to turn away migrants to Mexico or directly to their home countries.  With no new definitive plans set in place to handle issues at the border (as well as in-fighting amongst Republicans, who hold a House Majority), lawmakers are working around the clock to vote on new bills that will blunt the flow of migrants into the Western Hemisphere.

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