WOLA: Advocacy for Human Rights in the Americas

Ciudad Juárez Fire: What Happened and What Does It Tell Us About Immigration Policy?

2:00 PM - 3:00 PM ET Tuesday, 25 April 2023

Juan Ortega/Getty Images


In case you missed it, you can watch the event here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gcDl2qB_SOo

The Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) cordially invites you to the following webinar:

Ciudad Juárez Fire: What Happened and What Does It Tell Us About Immigration Policy?

The death of 40 Central and South Americans in a fire on March 27, 2023 at a Mexican government immigration detention center in Ciudad Juárez highlights the failure of U.S. and Mexican immigration policies, both of which focus on detention and deterrence. The victims died in preventable circumstances in Mexican government custody, in a context where they did not have, or presumably would not have had, access to a legal avenue to seek asylum in the United States. 

When the fire started, officials and security personnel kept 68 people confined, despite being obligated to protect their lives. The case drew national and international attention because of its severity, but it is not an isolated incident: the National Migration Institute (Instituto Nacional de Migración, INM) has not corrected the deplorable conditions and practices in many of its detention centers, Mexican immigration policy is increasingly militarized, and detention is used on a large scale in response to increased human mobility and U.S.-Mexico agreements to curb migration to the shared border.

In the United States, continued enforcement of Title 42 denies the right to apply for asylum at the border unless individuals manage to get one of the few appointments offered through a flawed cell phone app to request an exception to the rule. Since January 2021, people expelled to Mexican border cities under Title 42 have suffered more than 13,000 publicly reported assaults, including kidnappings, rapes and murders. Title 42 is scheduled to end on May 11, but the U.S. government is negotiating with the Mexican government to allow for the mass return of people to Mexico and plans other measures that would keep the border closed to many vulnerable people.

The tragedy in Ciudad Juárez is an urgent call for both governments to change course and protect the lives of migrants. In response, next Tuesday, April 25, we will be joined by members of Mexican civil society organizations that accompany survivors and family members of the case. From their extensive experience representing migrants and promoting policies that prioritize the protection of people and access to justice, they will share with us what happened in this case and how the facts show the failures of migration policy. They will present their recommendations for Mexican authorities in this case and for improving national migration policy, as well as for the management of migration and asylum claims at the border in the context of the end of Title 42.


Blanca Navarrete

Integral Human Rights in Action (Derechos Humanos Integrales en Acción, DHIA), Ciudad Juárez

Gretchen Kuhner

Institute for Women in Migration (Instituto para las Mujeres en la Migración, IMUMI)

Ana Lorena Delgadillo

Foundation for Justice and the Democratic Rule of Law (Fundación para la Justicia y el Estado Democrático de Derecho, FJEDD)

Moderated by:

Maureen Meyer

Vice President for Programs, Washington Office on Latin America, WOLA


Tuesday, April 25, 2023

12:00 – 13:00 CDMX / 14:00 – 15:00 Washington DC.

Simultaneous interpretation in English and Spanish will be provided by Zoom only.

Register to join the webinar here.