Mexican president deflects blame to US for mass-casualty fire at migrant detention center

Mexico’s president promised to visit hospitals treating injured migrants in the border city of Ciudad Juarez Friday, where 39 men died in a immigration detention center fire late Monday.

President Andr?s Manuel L?pez Obrador said he was personally devastated by Monday’s tragedy. But it appears he will bring little new with him in the way of immigration policy during Friday’s visit to Ciudad Juarez, across from El Paso, Texas.

“I confess it hurt me a lot, it damaged me,” L?pez Obrador said before the trip. “It ripped my soul apart.” The president said the Ciudad Juarez fire was the second most painful moment of his administration, exceeded only by a 2019 pipeline fire in the central Mexico town of Tlahuelilpan that killed about 135 people.

MEXICO MIGRANT CENTER FIRE DEATHS INVESTIGATED AS HOMICIDES; ARREST WARRANTS IMMINENT: OFFICIALS

However, it hasn’t cost him much politically.

Many residents of Mexican border cities mourned the death of the migrants in the smoky mattress fire, set by some migrants to protest perceived moves to deport them. But in Ciudad Juarez, many residents were fed up with migrants largely from Central America and Venezuela begging for change at street corners and blocking border bridges.

L?pez Obrador’s visit to Ciudad Juarez was marked by anger over the deaths. A group of migrants and their supporters tried to block the president’s motorcade, leading to scuffles Friday afternoon.

Eager to gain favor with the United States, L?pez Obrador has made life hard for migrants seeking to cross Mexico to reach the U.S. border. He has assigned tens of thousands of army troops and National Guard officers to retain migrants, and allowed the United States to return migrants from Venezuela, Honduras, Nicaragua and Cuba to Mexico.

But the U.S. has contributed little to helping Mexico shelter or integrate the returned migrants.

L?pez Obrador lashed out Friday, saying the United States should be spending more on economic development in Latin America to prevent migrants from leaving their homes, rather than sending military aid to Ukraine. He suggested the U.S. should provide direct cash support payments to families in the region.

“How can you compare what the U.S. government send to Central America, with the $30, $35 billion it is spending on buying weapons for Ukraine?” L?pez Obrador said.

That impasse — with federal governments in Mexico and the United States loathe to touch the migration issue — often leaves the situation up to local leaders, many of whose constituents view the migrants as a nuisance.

Federal Public Safety Secretary Rosa Icela Rodr?guez said the government would close the detention center where the fire occurred.

L?pez Obrador said Friday he was going to set up a commission to ensure the human rights of migrants are protected. He said the commission would be headed by longtime migrant activist and Roman Catholic priest Rev. Alejandro Solalinde. But it was unclear what powers the commission would have.

In the meantime, L?pez Obrador said “I will concentrate on the medical side, basically. What matters to me is treatment for the injured.” Mexico has turned down a U.S. offer to help provide medial treatment to the injured, most of whom suffered smoke inhalation, saying they were too ill to move.

Rodr?guez said Thursday that 24 migrants remained hospitalized, all of them in apparently either serious or critical condition. Four migrants had been discharged, she said.

FIRE AT MEXICO MIGRANT FACILITY THAT KILLED 38 STARTED IN DEPORTATION PROTEST, PRESIDENT SAYS

The migrant accused of starting the fire suffered only slight injuries and has already been released from the hospital, presumably into custody.

That migrant, along with three officials from the National Immigration Institute and two private security guards at the detention center face charges of homicide and causing injuries.

A video from a security camera inside the Ciudad Juarez facility showed guards walking away when the fire started inside the cell holding migrants and not making any attempt to release them. It was not clear whether those guards had keys to the cell doors.

But there have been years of complaints about poor conditions and human rights violations at migrant detention facilities in Mexico, including inadequate ventilation, food and water, and overflowing toilets.

Moreover there is mounting evidence of corruption throughout Mexico’s immigration system, in which everyone from lawyers and immigration officials to guards have taken bribes to allow migrants out of detention.

Little has been done up to now to address these concerns.

Mexico’s president promised to visit hospitals treating injured migrants in the border city of Ciudad Juarez Friday, where 39 men died in a immigration detention center fire late Monday.

President Andr?s Manuel L?pez Obrador said he was personally devastated by Monday’s tragedy. But it appears he will bring little new with him in the way of immigration policy during Friday’s visit to Ciudad Juarez, across from El Paso, Texas.

“I confess it hurt me a lot, it damaged me,” L?pez Obrador said before the trip. “It ripped my soul apart.” The president said the Ciudad Juarez fire was the second most painful moment of his administration, exceeded only by a 2019 pipeline fire in the central Mexico town of Tlahuelilpan that killed about 135 people.

MEXICO MIGRANT CENTER FIRE DEATHS INVESTIGATED AS HOMICIDES; ARREST WARRANTS IMMINENT: OFFICIALS

However, it hasn’t cost him much politically.

Many residents of Mexican border cities mourned the death of the migrants in the smoky mattress fire, set by some migrants to protest perceived moves to deport them. But in Ciudad Juarez, many residents were fed up with migrants largely from Central America and Venezuela begging for change at street corners and blocking border bridges.

L?pez Obrador’s visit to Ciudad Juarez was marked by anger over the deaths. A group of migrants and their supporters tried to block the president’s motorcade, leading to scuffles Friday afternoon.

Eager to gain favor with the United States, L?pez Obrador has made life hard for migrants seeking to cross Mexico to reach the U.S. border. He has assigned tens of thousands of army troops and National Guard officers to retain migrants, and allowed the United States to return migrants from Venezuela, Honduras, Nicaragua and Cuba to Mexico.

But the U.S. has contributed little to helping Mexico shelter or integrate the returned migrants.

L?pez Obrador lashed out Friday, saying the United States should be spending more on economic development in Latin America to prevent migrants from leaving their homes, rather than sending military aid to Ukraine. He suggested the U.S. should provide direct cash support payments to families in the region.

“How can you compare what the U.S. government send to Central America, with the $30, $35 billion it is spending on buying weapons for Ukraine?” L?pez Obrador said.

That impasse — with federal governments in Mexico and the United States loathe to touch the migration issue — often leaves the situation up to local leaders, many of whose constituents view the migrants as a nuisance.

Federal Public Safety Secretary Rosa Icela Rodr?guez said the government would close the detention center where the fire occurred.

L?pez Obrador said Friday he was going to set up a commission to ensure the human rights of migrants are protected. He said the commission would be headed by longtime migrant activist and Roman Catholic priest Rev. Alejandro Solalinde. But it was unclear what powers the commission would have.

In the meantime, L?pez Obrador said “I will concentrate on the medical side, basically. What matters to me is treatment for the injured.” Mexico has turned down a U.S. offer to help provide medial treatment to the injured, most of whom suffered smoke inhalation, saying they were too ill to move.

Rodr?guez said Thursday that 24 migrants remained hospitalized, all of them in apparently either serious or critical condition. Four migrants had been discharged, she said.

FIRE AT MEXICO MIGRANT FACILITY THAT KILLED 38 STARTED IN DEPORTATION PROTEST, PRESIDENT SAYS

The migrant accused of starting the fire suffered only slight injuries and has already been released from the hospital, presumably into custody.

That migrant, along with three officials from the National Immigration Institute and two private security guards at the detention center face charges of homicide and causing injuries.

A video from a security camera inside the Ciudad Juarez facility showed guards walking away when the fire started inside the cell holding migrants and not making any attempt to release them. It was not clear whether those guards had keys to the cell doors.

But there have been years of complaints about poor conditions and human rights violations at migrant detention facilities in Mexico, including inadequate ventilation, food and water, and overflowing toilets.

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

Moreover there is mounting evidence of corruption throughout Mexico’s immigration system, in which everyone from lawyers and immigration officials to guards have taken bribes to allow migrants out of detention.

Little has been done up to now to address these concerns.

Related articles

You may also be interested in

CNN Poll: Trump Leads Harris by 3 Points

Forty-nine percent of registered voters said they would vote for Donald Trump in the 2024 presidential election and 46% said would vote for Vice President

Headline

Never Miss A Story

Get our Weekly recap with the latest news, articles and resources.
Cookie policy

We use our own and third party cookies to allow us to understand how the site is used and to support our marketing campaigns.