39 migrants killed in massive blaze at Mexican deportation center after detainees set fire to mattresses

A reported 39 people were killed Monday night when a fire started in a government-run migration facility in northern Mexico. There were 29 additional people injured in the tragic event, who were later sent to local hospitals in the area.

The blaze broke out in the National Migration Institute facility in Ciudad Juárez, which borders the US near El Paso, Texas. The New York Times reported that there were 68 men from Central and South America who were being held there.

The migrants there were apparently frustrated amid their imminent deportation, and so set fire to their mattresses in protest. The fire would ultimately kill more than half of those housed in the facility, per The Hill.

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said: “As protest, at the door of the shelter, they put mattresses and set them on fire, and they did not imagine that this was going to cause this terrible tragedy.”

He added: “We assume it was because they found out they were going to be deported.”

The institute reported that it had initiated discussions with “consular authorities from different countries” in an effort to identify those who had died. Additionally, an investigation is set to take place after a formal complaint was lodged concerning the “corresponding authorities,” per The New York Times.

However, general unrest and rioting within detention centers is not unusual, according to one report. Protests and riots are more likely to break out when there is a higher immigration flow and detention centers are more congested than usual.

In October, a group of Venezuelan migrants rioted in a Tijuana immigration facility that had to be put down by the police and National Guard. Another situation broke out in November at the Tapachula detention facility, close to the border of Guatemala. However, there were no deaths reported during either incident.

Ciudad Juárez is apparently a central location for migrants coming into the US. The shelters are full of migrants who are waiting for their applications for asylum to be processed.

Image: Title: migrant fire