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Tragedies Reveal the Desperation of Migrants and the Cruelty of Our Immigration System

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Washington, DC – The fire that claimed at least 39 lives at a Mexican detention center is a tragic reminder of the human toll of our broken immigration system and the desperation of many to seek safety and better opportunities in the United States. Those jailed at the facility were facing deportation. The Washington Post reports:

“Protests are not uncommon at Mexico’s migrant detention facilities, which are often overcrowded. In October, migrants rioted at a detention center in the border city of Tijuana, with police and National Guard troops swooping in to restore order. A month later, another riot erupted in a large detention center in the southern city of Tapachula.”

As horrific as these incidents are, the loss of life in Ciudad Juarez is yet another in a long line of tragedies stemming from migrants who are willing to risk their lives to enter the United States. Just in the past month:

“Two migrants were found dead in a shipping container on a train the authorities stopped east of Uvalde, Texas, on Friday, according to local police. One other person was left in serious condition and another in critical condition.

…In the past years, migrants have taken increasingly risky paths to evade detection and enter the US. Immigrant rights advocates have attributed the rise in deaths at the border to policies that have made it more difficult for migrants to seek refuge in the US, according to CNN’s previous reporting.”

“An estimated 15 migrants were on one vessel and eight migrants were on the other, a person said in a 911 call shortly before midnight on Saturday. Both vessels had capsized by the time first responders arrived at Black’s Beach, which is about 15 miles north of San Diego. 

The San Diego Fire-Rescue Department, Border Patrol, and the Coast Guard pulled the bodies of eight migrants from the water before the search was suspended on Sunday afternoon. It’s unclear how many migrants, if any, made it to shore.”

According to Vanessa Cárdenas, Executive Director of America’s Voice: 

“Last night’s incident in Mexico is heartbreaking, and it is yet another sign of how desperate migrants are for a chance at a better life and how broken our immigration system is. The recent loss of life along the border is a result of a dysfunctional system where visas and legal channels are few, and the need for safety and survival is great. Our current policies of deterrence are failing. Rather than turning back, many migrants are willing to risk death or serious injury if it means successfully making it into the United States. At a time when America needs immigrants to help fuel our economic growth, when families are separated by borders with no means to reunite, and deaths along the border or en route to it are high, we must find a better way. These tragedies make it clear that the debate on immigration is not just about political stunts, sham hearings, or Fox News sound bites, but rather about real people risking their lives to achieve the American Dream.”