Agents at Ciudad Juarez Migrant Center Reportedly Left Victims Locked Up When Fire Started
Images of bodies piled up in front of a Mexican National Migration Institute (INM) center in Ciudad Juarez shocked the world last Monday. A fire left 40 dead and dozens of people of six nationalities injured.
The incident occurred at the INM facility on the Stanton-Lerdo International Bridge in the border city of Ciudad Juarez. Many of the migrants were waiting to enter the United States.
According to statements made by President Manuel López Obrador, the fire started shortly before 10:00 p.m. Monday night. The detainees reportedly set fire to their mattresses in protest when they learned that they would be deported.
Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard informed, “those directly responsible for the events have been presented to the Attorney General’s Office.”
However, there were no details as to why the victims were not evicted. Until now.
A chilling video
A new video shows how the agents of the Ciudad Juarez immigration station left the migrants locked up and left the facilities.
It is a 32-second video from a security camera that recorded the moment when the fire started. The footage shows the migrants locked in a cell as the fire grows and the smoke spreads. But it also shows three INM agents pacing around the room and eventually leaving.
None of the officials made any attempt to remove the locked victims, at least for the duration of the footage.
The video shows how flames start to grow in one of the corners of the room and begin to peek through the bars. Three agents, two men and a woman, can be identified leaving the room while a migrant kicks the bars.
The last agent runs out without looking back toward the dozens of men who remained locked up with the fire.
In the last seconds of the video, the image loses clarity as the smoke begins to fill the entire room. Only several pockets of flames inside the cell are highlighted.
‘We are human beings’
Migrants and activists have complained about the circumstances migrants experience in the region.
“We want them to understand that we are not animals,” said a group of migrants who gathered outside the immigration offices in Ciudad Juarez to protest. “We are human beings.”
“I am human too, but they treat you like a dog,” a Venezuelan woman desperate to know about her husband told the BBC. “He was taken away in an ambulance. They haven’t told me anything. A relative could’ve died, and they wouldn’t tell you. Is he dead? Nothing.”
UN Secretary General António Guterres has called for a full investigation into what happened. For its part, Joe Biden’s administration has used the incident to warn about the dangers of migrating.
“Broadly speaking across this administration, we have long talked about the risks that irregular migration poses,” State Department Deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel told reporters. “I am not speaking about this incident specifically, but broadly those who chose to transit anywhere irregularly put themselves at risk.”