September 30, 2023

MATAMOROS, Mexico (AP) — About two dozen makeshift tents have been set ablaze and destroyed at a migrant camp throughout the border from Texas this week, witnesses mentioned Friday, an indication of the acute threat that comes with being caught in Mexico because the Biden administration more and more depends on that nation to host individuals fleeing poverty and violence.

The fires have been set Wednesday and Thursday on the sprawling camp of about 2,000 individuals, most of them from Venezuela, Haiti and Mexico, in Matamoros, a metropolis close to Brownsville, Texas. An advocate for migrants mentioned that they had been doused with gasoline.

It was not instantly identified who was responsible in torching the tents. Cartel-backed gangs typically draw suspicion in any border assaults due to their penchant for preying on migrants and demanding cash for passage by way of their territory. However a authorities official urged the fires might have been set by a gaggle of migrants pissed off over their lengthy wait in Matamoros to cross the border.

“The individuals fled as their tents have been burned,” mentioned Gladys Cañas, who runs the group Ayudandoles A Triunfar. “What they’re saying as a part of their testimony is that they have been informed to go away from there.”

There have been no stories of deaths or vital accidents. However about 25 rudimentary shelters made up of plastic, tarps, branches and different supplies have been torched in a sparsely populated a part of the camp. Many who lived there additionally apparently misplaced clothes, paperwork and no matter different modest belongings might have been left inside.

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Margarita, a Mexican lady staying on the camp, mentioned Friday she noticed migrants from Venezuela screaming throughout the day gone by’s blaze.

“They’d their kids with them and some different issues that they had an opportunity to get,” Margarita mentioned. She spoke on the situation that her final title not be printed as a result of fears for her security.

Gangs lately threatened migrants who have been wading throughout the river border illegally, in addition to their guides, Margarita mentioned, however the crossings had continued.

Felony teams typically prey upon migrants within the space and demand cash in return for permission to go by way of their territory.

Nonetheless, Juan José Rodríguez, director of the Tamaulipas Institute for Migrants, a state company coordinating with Mexico’s federal authorities, mentioned he had no data {that a} gang was answerable for the fires.

Rodríguez attributed them to a gaggle of migrants and mentioned some 10 tents that had already been deserted have been burned. He added that they apparently set the fires to precise frustration with a U.S. authorities cell app that assigns turns for individuals to indicate up on the border and declare asylum.

Migrants have been making use of for 740 slots made obtainable day by day on the glitch-plagued app, CBPOne, which permits them to enter the U.S. legally at an official crossing.

There are way more migrants than obtainable slots, exacerbating tensions in Mexican border cities that home them, typically in shelters and camps just like the one in Matamoros. Final yr a whole lot of migrants blocked a significant pedestrian crossing between Tijuana and San Diego till authorities shut down the protest.

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In Matamoros on Wednesday evening, about 200 migrants gathered on the southern aspect of a world bridge and halted all U.S.-bound site visitors, the U.S. Customs and Border Safety reported. Automobiles have been capable of resume crossing after about two hours and pedestrians have been allowed to cross after about 4 hours.

CBP made no point out of fires on the Mexican camp in its assertion in regards to the bridge shutdown.

The tent fires in Matamoros come on the heels of a March 27 blaze that killed 40 males at a Mexican immigration detention middle in Ciudad Juarez. The fireplace was allegedly began by a detained migrant to protest circumstances on the facility within the metropolis throughout from El Paso, Texas.

The U.S. authorities is more and more turning to Mexico whereas making ready to finish pandemic-era asylum restrictions, generally known as Title 42 authority, on Could 11. Mexico lately started accepting individuals from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela who cross the border irregularly and are turned again by the U.S.

The Biden administration is also placing closing touches on a coverage below which asylum could be denied to individuals who go by way of one other nation, reminiscent of Mexico, to achieve U.S. soil.


Related Press author Alfredo Peña in Ciudad Victoria, Mexico, contributed to this report.