At least 39 migrants die from fire ignited over deportations at Mexican holding facility
A spokesperson for Guatemala's foreign ministry said Mexican authorities told them they believe the mattresses may have been set on fire by migrants from Venezuela.
March 28, 2023 12:58pm
Updated: March 28, 2023 1:01pm
An estimated 39 migrants from Central and South America were killed by a deadly fire that erupted late Monday evening at a Mexican holding facility in Ciudad Juarez, a city just south of El Paso, Texas.
The event was purportedly ignited when some migrants learned the sad news they were being deported back to their homelands, authorities said Tuesday. Of the 39 estimated casualties, 28 were Guatemalans, Guatemala's national migration institute said.
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said authorities believed the fire broke out after some migrants set mattresses ablaze in protest after they learned they were going to be deported. A spokesperson for Guatemala's foreign ministry said Mexican authorities told them they believe the mattresses may have been set on fire by migrants from Venezuela.
"They didn't think that would cause this terrible tragedy," the Mexican president said at a press conference, making clear that most migrants at the facility were from countries other than his own.
Authorities said the fire is the deadliest the country has seen in recent years.
There were reportedly a total of 68 adult men stating at the facility, and 29 were injured by the fire and taken to four area hospitals, Mexico's National Migration Institute (INM) said.
Many of the migrants who died were from Guatemala and Honduras, according to reports.
An official from the Honduran foreign ministry said there were 13 Hondurans at the center, but it was still unknown if any of them were among the fatalities.
White House National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson called the loss "heartbreaking" in Twitter, and said the U.S. was prepared to assist Mexico.
Migrant holding facilities in Mexico have continued amassing large populations as U.S. officials continue to process asylum requests on the new government app, CBP One.
The app was created as part of the Biden administration’s new policy to allow up to 30,000 people from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela to enter the country by air each month.
Many migrants have complained that the process is keeping them in waiting too long, spurring impatience and hostility with border officials.