CLINIC Mourns the Loss of Life at a Migrant Detention Center

SILVER SPRING, Maryland — A fire in a migrant detention center in the border city of Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, has killed at least 39 migrants and seriously injured over 20 more. The fire, which started on Monday, March 27, occurred at a National Migration Institute facility, run by the Mexican government.

Bishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento, California, CLINIC’s board chair, said: “A fire raged through a detention facility, further afflicting the lives of our migrant brothers and sisters, in circumstances already dire and dismal. Their plight should not be forgotten or discarded. The borderline does not absolve us from seeing the horror of this catastrophe. Christian solidarity should make their suffering our own. May God comfort those affected by this tragedy and inspire us to create better systems in which promoting and respecting the dignity of all people is the highest priority.”

Anna Gallagher, CLINIC’s executive director, said: “We are heartbroken to think of the migrants who left their homes seeking safety and stability only to die in a fire while locked in a detention facility. Our faith teaches us that all people bear equal dignity, but migrants are often treated as disposable, valued less than others and subject to outrageous treatment. Under Title 42, many migrants hoping to apply for asylum in the U.S. have been sent back to Mexico to await processing, where we know they live in dangerous conditions, vulnerable to criminalization and discrimination as they are cycled in and out of shelters and detention centers. While the details of this fire are still unknown, we know that dangerous policies and practices by both governments have contributed to overcrowding of facilities, breakdowns in cooperation and the politicization of migration. As Title 42 is expected to end in May, we pray for the creation of safe, humane conditions respectful of migrants’ dignity, and equitable pathways for them to access their legal right to seek asylum — a right under national and international law.”