Region of Concern: US-Mexico Border
Written By Iris Hautaniemi Forsberg; Edited by Cameron Munoz and Jennifer Loy
Date: March 28, 2023
Map of the US-Mexico Border
Event: On March 28, a fire broke out at the Instituto Nacional de Migración (INM) detention center for migrants in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, near the US-Mexico border. No official statement has been published, but reports indicate that at least 38 people have died. The migrants set fire to the mattresses as a protest against the decision to deport them. According to the Title 42 policy, established at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, the US government has the authority to immediately deport people who attempt to cross the border. Many migrants anticipate that this policy will change, leading to increased numbers of migrants coming to towns along the border. The fire comes two weeks after hundreds of migrants tried to forcibly cross the border during a protest in the same city.
Significance: This incident likely occurred due to insufficient staff and security officers, given the large number of migrants detained in detention facilities. The fire will likely lead to overcrowded detention centers in the surrounding areas, increasing the risk of further accidents or violence. Reports of dangerous situations at official border crossings and detention centers will likely lead to migrants choosing other ways into the US, such as paying smugglers. Congressional Republicans will likely increase pressure on the Biden administration to extend the Title 42 policy to curb the increased amount of incoming migrants. Stricter migration laws and increased deportations are unlikely to decrease the potential of accidents, but result in a further destabilized migration system in Mexico.
Recommendations: The Mexican government should provide detention centers with extra security measures and personnel to prevent dangerous situations. The US government should increase economic funding to organizations and companies in Central America that work to establish jobs, provide education and increase food security to address the root causes of migration. The Department of Justice Anti-Corruption Task Force, under the US government, should also continue to put pressure on countries in Central America to combat corruption, improving the region’s economic situation. Instead of extending the Title 42 policy, the US government should increase its administrative capabilities along the border to help the migrants seeking asylum. To ensure that migrants do not seek out smugglers and cross over illegally, the US and Mexican governments should work together to increase information campaigns for migrants and encourage more legal pathways into the US. Law enforcement in both countries should increase their cooperation and intelligence sharing to uncover the smuggling networks and ensure that migrants getting caught for crossing illegally get humane treatment on both sides of the border. Human rights organizations like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International should monitor the situation in the detention camps and report any mistreatments.
 Fire at migrant detention center on U.S.-Mexico border kills 39 - report, i24 News, March 2023, https://www.i24news.tv/en/news/international/americas/1679989125-fire-at-u-s-migrant-detention-center-kills-39-report
 Mexico migrants: Deadly fire at Juárez migrant centre, BBC News, March 2023, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-65088389
 Hundreds of Migrants Try to Force Their Way Into US at Mexico Border, Voice of America, March 2023, https://www.voanews.com/a/hundreds-of-migrants-try-to-force-their-way-into-us-at-mexico-border/7001845.html