EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – A judge in Juarez has ordered Mexico’s immigration commissioner and one of his top assistants to appear in court next week in connection to a March 27 fire that claimed the lives of 40 migrants.
Further, arrest warrants have been issued against other unnamed top Mexican immigration officials.
“The Attorney General’s Office has obtained from a federal judge arrest warrants against officials of the National Migration Institute (INM) who have a direct link to the regrettable events of March 27,” the AG’s Office said in a statement late Thursday. “The federal police is executing the (judicial) orders.”
Mexico City news outlets said those targeted by the warrants are the INM regional director in the state of Chihuahua, and three agents assigned to Juarez.
INM Commissioner Francisco Garduño and Antonio Vidal Islas, INM’s head of records and regulations, are to report to a mandatory hearing in the judge’s chambers in Juarez on April 20 and 21. There are no formal felony charges against these two officials yet, so they remain free.
Both officials are under investigation for omission of duty that may have facilitated the conditions that led to a protest at the Juarez facility that ended with a fatal fire. The officials were also linked to a previous fire at a detention center in Southern Mexico that left one migrant dead and 14 hospitalized.
The Attorney General said the judge will determine the exact nature of the charges at next week’s hearings.
Migrant advocates like Juarez attorney Jorge Vazquez Campbell would like to see the INM officials face charges similar to those leveled against four immigration agents, one private security guard and the migrant that allegedly started the fire during a protest. The guards are facing charges of omission of duty leading to injury and death, while the migrant, a Venezuelan only identified as Jaison, is likely to face multiple homicide charges.
“It is regrettable that (Gardñno) is facing minor charges when the fruit of their omission was the death of 40 people. We will see if the judge has the guts to apply the full weight of the law or yield to political pressures,” said Vazquez Campbell, adding that Garduño is a long-time ally of Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. “It is sad, but that is the way things work in Mexico.”
Vazquez Campbell said he is seeking a jailhouse interview with Jaison because he believes the migrant is not getting adequate legal assistance. “He was assigned a public defender but he missed deadlines to file protective writs (amparos). He is alone out there,” the lawyer said.