From El Paso Matters:
CIUDAD JUAREZ – At least 39 people were killed in a fire Monday night in the city’s main processing center for migrants, and another 29 injured, Mexican officials said.
The fire was at the National Institute of Migration office at the foot of the Stanton Street/Lerdo bridge, one of two bridges linking Downtown El Paso to Juárez. The fire was in a facility that housed adult men from Central and South America.
Firefighters and Mexican soldiers stacked bodies wrapped in mylar blankets outside the migrant processing center.
Investigators haven’t announced a cause of the fire, but Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador blamed the detained migrants.
“This had to do with a protest that (the migrants) started after we suppose they found out that they were going to be deported and as a protest they placed mats at the door of the shelter and set them on fire,” he said in a speech Tuesday morning.
Tuesday morning, dozens of migrants showed up at the INM offices to demand answers and chanting “Justicia” (justice).
Multiple media reports said most of the dead were Veneuzuelans, who in recent months have comprised the largest group of migrants arriving in Juárez to cross into the United States. The Guatemalan Foreign Ministry said 28 of the dead and injured were from that country.
The killed and injured were people who had been expelled from the United States under a public health law known as Title 42, or others seized this Monday by Mexican agents in a special operation carried out in Juárez to remove them from the road crossings where they clean windows, sell sweets or ask for money, La Verdad reported.
Several human rights groups on Tuesday called on the Mexican federal government to take responsibility for the incident.
The organizations said the government needs to stop referring to the facility as a shelter and call it a detention facility. The human rights groups say migrants are not allowed to leave and all of their belongings are taken.
Tensions have been rising in recent weeks between migrants and Juárez officials.