At least 39 people dead, and 29 people were injured in a migration center that caught fire along the border of Mexico and the U.S., according to officials.
Authorities at the scene believe that the fire was a form of protest from the migrants because it happened after finding out they would be deported. 39 are confirmed dead, and 29 were rushed to the hospital because of their “delicate-serious condition,” according to NBC.
The migration-center is in Ciudad Juárez, 20 minutes north of El Paso, Texas. This is a major crossing point for immigrants trying to cross the border into the U.S.
Who started the fire?
In the initial report of the fire, migrants put up mattresses to block their cell doors and lit them on fire to protest their detainment and deportation. Though, some people are skeptical about this because of the level of security inside the facility.
Anthony Gonzales is a Venezuelan migrant that was held at the same facility last week and told Nitocias Telemundo that the space is similar to a jail.
“They take everything from you before entering,” Gonzales said.
The fire is being investigated as a homicide because, according to The New York Times, the workers at the migrant center were not letting people escape. In a news conference two days after the fire, authorities announced eight suspects and said they would put four arrest warrants out.
This announcement came after a video emerged of the fire, where guards were seen walking away when people were inside behind bars, unable to escape. The facility said 68 men were detained, mainly from Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, and Venezuela.
According to NBC, Venezuelan migrant Viangly Infante Padrón was looking for her husband, Edward Carabollo, amidst the fire, but “smoke started coming out of everywhere.” She was at the shelter to pick him up, but when the fire hit, Padrón heard a guard say, “take the women out,” before whisking her away.
Carabollo made it out safe because he poured out all his water and threw himself at the door to exit.
Sara Irene Herrerías Guerra, a top federal rights officer, told The New York Times that “none of the public servants, nor the private security guards, took any action to open the door for the migrants who were inside where the fire was.”
The President of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, said in a statement that the migrants that started the fire were most likely unaware of the potential damage it would do.
“They didn’t imagine this would cause this misfortune,” López said.
The commissioner of the National Migration Institute, Francisco Garduno Yanez, said that the migrants were taken to the hospital to check on their health conditions.
The agency also put out this tweet from the commissioner saying that the immigration authority will give out “Visitor Cards for Humanitarian Reasons.”