MATAMUROS, Mexico – Nearly two dozen makeshift tents were destroyed by fire at a migrant camp across the border from Texas this week, witnesses said Friday, a sign of the extreme danger of being trapped in Mexico. comes along as the Biden administration becomes increasingly dependent. That country will host people fleeing poverty and violence.
The fire was set Wednesday and Thursday in the sprawling encampment of about 2,000 people, most of them from Venezuela, Haiti and Mexico, in Matamoros, a city near Brownsville, Texas. A lawyer for the migrants said they were doused with petrol.
“People fled after their tents were burned,” said Gladys Kayas, who runs a group called Ayudandoles A Triunfar. “What they are saying as part of their testimony is that they were told to leave.”
There are no reports of fatalities or significant injuries. But around 25 makeshift shelters made of plastic, tarps, branches and other materials in the sparsely populated part of the camp were set on fire. Many of the people living there may have apparently left missing clothing, documents and other minor items inside.
Margarita, a Mexican woman living in the camp, said Friday that she saw migrants from Venezuela screaming during the previous day’s fire.
“They had their children with them and some other things they had the opportunity to have,” Margarita said. He spoke on condition that his last name not be published due to safety concerns.
Margarita said gangs had recently threatened migrants crossing the river illegally, as well as their leaders, but the crossings continued.
Criminal gangs often prey on migrants in the area and demand money in exchange for permission to pass through their territory.
However, Juan José Rodríguez, director of the Tamaulipas Institute for Migrants, a state agency coordinated with Mexico’s federal government, said he had no information that any group was responsible for the fires.
Rodriguez attributed them to a group of migrants and said some 10 tents that had already been abandoned had been burned. He added that he apparently set the fire to express frustration with a US government mobile app that assigns queues for people to come to the border and claim asylum.
Immigrants are applying for 740 slots available daily on the flawed CBPOne app, which allows them to enter the U.S. legally at official crossings.
There are far more migrants than available slots, adding to tensions in the Mexican border towns where they live, often in shelters and camps such as Matamoros. Last year, hundreds of migrants blocked a major pedestrian crossing between Tijuana and San Diego until authorities shut down the protest.
About 200 migrants gathered on the south side of an international bridge in Matamoros on Wednesday night, blocking all U.S.-bound traffic, U.S. Customs and Border Protection reported. Vehicles were able to resume crossing after about two hours and pedestrians were allowed to cross after about four hours.
CBP made no mention of the fire at the Mexican camp in its statement about the bridge closure.
The tent fire in Matamoros follows a March 27 fire that killed 40 people at a Mexican immigration detention center in Ciudad Juarez. The fire was allegedly started by a detained immigrant to protest conditions at the facility in El Paso, Texas.
The U.S. government is quickly turning to Mexico as it prepares to end pandemic-era refugee restrictions on May 11, known as Title 42 authority. From America
The Biden administration is also finalizing a policy that would deny asylum to people arriving on US soil through another country, such as Mexico.