Tent city prompts concerns in Juarez

Border Report

Human rights officials monitoring Mexican holding facility

JUAREZ, Mexico (KTSM) — A new makeshift temporary holding facility has gone up on the Mexican side of the Stanton Street Bridge.

The white tents are holding migrants returned from the United States since Tuesday, and while officials say no one will be staying there overnight, KTSM has obtained photos showing sleeping cots under some of the tarps.

Also, some Juarez officials say they’ve been told the new holding facility went up in anticipation of a stepped-up return of migrants from the United States, something the Mexican federal National Immigration Institute denies.

Given the highly-publicized complaints that a similar tent city on the U.S. side of the Paso del Norte Bridge drew, a member of the Chihuahua State Human Rights Commission visited the Mexican facility on the Stanton Bridge on Thursday.

“Temperatures outdoors are very high, so we wanted to inspect the condition of the migrants staying there. There were no complaints (from the migrants), but we will continue to monitor the situation,” said Cesar Diaz, head of the commission in Juarez.

Diaz said he was told that the tarps would accommodate the overflow of migrants inside the Institute’s building. But he also was told that Mexico City officials want Juarez federal agents to be ready to process more deportees if president Trump makes good on last month’s promise to step up immigration raids in the United States.

On June 17, Trump posted tweets saying ICE would “begin the process of removing the millions of illegal aliens who have illicitly found their way into the United States. They will be removed as fast as they come in…”

On June 22, Trump said he was postponing the raids for two weeks to give Democrats a chance to close immigration law loopholes. Those two weeks are about up.

“(Mexican federal officials) want to be ready to process the migrants that are being detained coming from (Central America) plus new deportees from (the United States),” Diaz said.

An official from the National Immigration Institute, who declined to appear on camera, said no migrants are being held overnight under the tarps.

The official said the migrants typically spend only a few hours in custody and are either released after filling out a visitor’s form or sent south to holding facilities where they will be returned to their home countries. The official referred further inquiries to the Institute’s headquarters in Mexico City.

Luis Alfredo Seanez Najera, a Juarez city councilman who oversees public safety issues, said the arrival of thousands of Cuban and Central American migrants has taxed the city’s policing resources. Juarez officers have had to provide protection at the various private shelters, and they’ve also had to learn “to adjust to other people’s customs and ways of seeing things,” he said.

However, he declined to speculate on the U.S. possibly returning even more migrants to Mexico.

“What (Trump) is saying could be true or not true. It could be politics. So we should wait and see. If it really happens, then I’m sure our authorities will know how to react,” Seanez said.

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