39 migrants are dead, thanks to extreme border policies in Mexico and the US

The death of at least 39 asylum seekers at a Mexican detention facility is outrageous and a direct result of both countries’ ineffective immigration policies.

Mexico has a lot of explaining to do about the fire that killed migrants seeking refuge in the U.S. – but so does President Joe Biden, considering he has practically shut the border to these people fleeing persecution and other calamities.

“The deadly fire in Juárez should never have happened. Title 42 and other Trump-era holdovers are forcing migrants into dangerous, overcrowded conditions in Mexico,” Rep. Joaquín Castro, a Texas Democrat, tweeted. “The Biden admin needs to withdraw its asylum ban and work w/Mexico to protect migrants on both sides of the border.”

Don’t bet on it.

Biden, AMLO will shrug off this tragedy

Biden and Mexico President Andrés Manuel López Obrador lament the deaths but will quickly shrug off the tragedy as collateral damage in their fight to maintain power.

Because that’s what they do best: Cater to their political base no matter the cost.

In this case, the lives of at least 39 migrants – reportedly mostly Central and South American migrants who had made the trek through Mexico’s hostile territory to reach the U.S. border.

Rising tensions: Fentanyl exposes rift between US, Mexico

Instead of getting the chance to ask for asylum, they found a horrific death at a crowded federal detention facility in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, just across from El Paso, Texas.

A fire broke out in the facility where the migrants reportedly were held awaiting deportation as part of Mexico’s deal with the U.S.

Guards walked away. 38 detainees died

Migrants hold a vigil at the gate of the Mexican migrant facility where 39 migrants lost their lives after the facility caught fire where they had been detained.
Migrants hold a vigil at the gate of the Mexican migrant facility where 39 migrants lost their lives after the facility caught fire where they had been detained.

López Obrador said the migrants had set mattresses on fire to protest the deportation. But what happened next is inexcusable – if not criminal.

Surveillance video shows two guardsmen walking away from the screaming detainees as flames and smoke enveloped everything.

Later, 38 bodies were recovered.

“They never imagined that this would cause this terrible misfortune,” López Obrador told reporters.

Misfortune? This is a tragedy directly caused because of Biden’s immigration policies and the Mexican president doing his bidding.

Biden – who, by the way, promised humane immigration reform – has turned out to be a border hawk. He kept Title 42, a Trump-era health-related rule to expel migrants without due process.

So much for Biden's humane reform

Earlier this year, the White House announced a deal with Mexico to send back 30,000 migrants per month from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela if they crossed into the U.S. illegally.

Throngs of asylum seekers have been congregating in Ciudad Juarez, many of whom tried earlier this month to cross the international bridge into El Paso.

It’s unclear whether those who died at the detention center had tried to cross.

Tensions between the migrants and Mexican authorities had been boiling for weeks, per media reports. It’s an unsustainable situation and Monday’s deadly fire proves it.

It’s unclear what AMLO, as the Mexican president is known, is getting in exchange for doing the U.S.’s job of deporting migrants and keeping them away from American soil.

Whatever it is, Biden has found an ally in the deportation business who’s willing to let asylum seekers die as collateral damage in their war against unwelcome migrants.

Elvia Díaz is the editorial page editor for The Republic and azcentral. Reach her at 602-444-8606 or elvia.diaz@arizonarepublic.com. Follow her on Twitter, @elviadiaz1

This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: 39 migrants are dead, and our extreme border policies are to blame