Ciudad Juarez (Agenzia Fides) - "A sad reality that challenges us, all of us, profoundly, that does not leave us alone", underlined the Bishop of Ciudad Juárez, Monsignor José Guadalupe Torres Campos, when celebrating the mass in honor of the 39 migrants killed on the night of March 27, around 10 p.m., due to a fire that broke out in a temporary center of the National Institute of Migration (INM), in the state of Chihuahua, on the border between Mexico and the United States. The Bishop underlined the need for conversion, to change, putting the human person and his dignity at the centre. "Saving the person, seeing the person, a migrant and a refugee are a person, they are not a number or a statistic, but a person, a child of God, and we must treat them as a person, with dignity, with respect, with love", reiterated the Bishop.
Monsignor Torres Campos insisted on the need for conversion: "I have to convert, I in the first place, we all have to convert, change our mentality, our attitudes... not be selfish looking only for our own interests, of any kind, ideological, political, individual, commercial, personal... we have to change, convert ourselves!". He then urged us to look at "Jesus who is light, he is life, he is salvation, we must contemplate him, imitate him, follow him".
Responding to questions from journalists, the Bishop of Ciudad Juárez underlined the urgent need of carrying out a joint project on this matter, as well as a change in immigration policy by the federal government, which is responsible for this matter. He later ratified the regularization solution, "always respecting migrants, who are people." "We are all co-responsible for this situation", he added, "through indifference, through omission, through action…".
According to information gathered by Fides, the tragic events are still being investigated by the authorities. In protest at their transfer, some detained migrants reportedly started a riot, burning some mattresses, but the fire soon got out of control, causing the death of 39 people and injuring 29 others, of whom some 12 are in intensive care. Most of the migrants killed were men of Venezuelan nationality. In the center there were 68 migrants of different nationalities in the process of relocation. The migrants died intoxicated by the smoke, since, according to some witnesses, the guards refused to open the doors.
The Mexican prosecutor's office has announced that it has identified eight suspects considered responsible for these tragic events. Five of them apparently are security guards at the facility. The President of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, has declared that those responsible will be punished "according to the law", guaranteeing the transparency of the investigation and "no impunity" for those responsible for the "painful tragedy".
The bishops of the border between Texas and Mexico have expressed their sorrow for the incident and have asked for "the safety of our migrant brothers and sisters, always offering them dignified and humane treatment." The Latin American and Caribbean Ecclesial Network on Migration, Displaced Persons, Refugees and Human Trafficking has expressed its "ecclesial closeness, so that the right to migrate as well as not to migrate, is respected in all its extremes and the minimum conditions are met for a migration in which respect for human dignity prevails".
At yesterday's general audience, March 29, greeting the Spanish-speaking pilgrims, the Holy Father Francis invited them to pray with these words: "Let us pray for the migrants who died yesterday in a tragic fire in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, may the Lord receive you in his Kingdom and give comfort to your families. Let's pray for them". (SL) (Agenzia Fides, 30/3/2023)