December 9, 2023

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Camp for Venezuelan migrants on US border set on fire

Many of the residents also lost their clothes, documents and other simple things they kept inside.

About 25 makeshift homes were set on fire this week at a migrant camp near the Texas border in a sign of the grave danger of being stranded in Mexico, as President Joe Biden’s administration increasingly seeks to welcome people. Escape from poverty and violence.

A fire broke out Wednesday and Thursday in Matamoros, a town near Brownsville, Texas, at a large encampment of about 2,000 people from Venezuela, Haiti and Mexico.

A pro-migrant activist said the makeshift shelters were doused with petrol.

Gladys Cañas, who runs the group Ayudandos A Triunfar, said people fled when their shops caught fire. He added that the victims were told to leave the place.

The press did not report any deaths or injuries. However, around 25 basic shelters made of plastic, canvas, branches and other materials were set on fire in a sparsely populated part of the camp.

Many of the residents also lost their clothes, documents and other simple things they kept inside.

Margarita, a Mexican woman staying at the camp, said on Friday that she had seen migrants from Venezuela screaming during the fire the previous day.

They had kids and stuff, Margarita said, requesting that their last names not be used for fear of something happening to her.

Criminal gangs have recently threatened migrants and their guides who cross the border river illegally, though foreigners continue to do so, Margarita said.

Bandits often abuse migrants in the area, demanding money to allow them to enter their territory.

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However, Juan Jose Rodriguez, general director of the Tamaulipas Institute for Migrants, a state agency that coordinates its work with Mexico’s federal government, said he had no information that any gang had caused the fire.

Rodríguez blamed a group of migrants for the fire and pointed out that around 10 dangerously abandoned dwellings had already been burned.

He said the migrants appeared to set the fire to show their frustration with the US government’s cellphone app that appears at the border to apply for asylum.

Immigrants want to get one of the 740 spots available daily through the CBPOne application, which isn’t without its drawbacks, but it does allow them to officially enter the U.S. legally.

The number of migrants outnumbers available places, raising tensions in Mexican border towns that receive migrants, often in camps such as those in Matamoros and Tamaulipas states in northeastern Mexico.

Last year, hundreds of migrants blocked a major pedestrian crossing between Tijuana and San Diego until authorities quelled the protest.

In Matamoros on Wednesday night, about 200 migrants gathered on the southbound side of an international bridge, blocking US-bound traffic, the country’s Customs and Border Protection (CBP) said. ) vehicles were able to resume their traffic after two hours and passers-by after four hours.

CBP did not mention the fire at the camp in Mexico in its report on the bridge closure. On March 27, a fire broke out in dangerous neighborhoods in Matamoros after 40 people were killed at a migrant detention center in the border city of Ciudad Juarez.

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The fire is said to have been started by migrants arrested in protest of the poor conditions at the site near El Paso, Texas.

The U.S. government has increasingly turned to Mexico as it prepares to end May 11 asylum restrictions imposed during the pandemic, known as Title 42 authority.

Mexico recently began deporting people from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela who crossed the border irregularly and were returned to Mexican soil by the United States.

The Biden administration is also putting the finishing touches on a policy that denies asylum to people who cross another country, such as Mexico, to reach US soil.

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