Around 3,000 immigrants have launched a mass march through Mexico in an effort to draw attention to detention facilities and demand changes to how they treat immigrants.
The immigrants mainly originate from Central American, Cuba, Venezuela, Ecuador, and Columbia.
They claim their destination is Mexico City, but similar caravans in the past have approached, and even crossed, the US-Mexico border.
Caravan organizer Irineo Mújica spoke with the Associated Press, telling reporters the immigrants are demanding that Mexico dismantle its immigration agency, which it blames for a fire that killed nearly 40 people in a detention facility last month.
The fire broke out in Cuidad Juarez, just across the border from El Paso, Texas, after an immigrant set their foam mattress on fire to protest their imminent transfer. In addition to the 39 killed, a further 29 people were injured after guards within the facility fled the fire without evacuating detainees.
“In this Viacrucis, we are asking the government that justice be done to the killers, for them to stop hiding high-ranking officials,” Mújica said. “We are also asking that these jails be ended, and that the National Immigration Institute be dissolved.”
“It could well have been any of us,” Salvadoran immigrant Miriam Argueta said to the AP. “In fact, a lot of our countrymen died. The only thing we are asking for is justice, and to be treated like anyone else.”
Following an investigation, the Venezuelan immigrant accused of igniting the fire as well as a guard at the facility and six officials of the National Immigration Institute were taken into custody on homicide charges.
Additionally, a judge ordered the immigration director of Chihuahua, a northern border state, to be tried on charges of homicide, injuries, and failure to perform his duties related to the fire.
The judge, Juan José Chávez, said there was enough evidence that Director Salvador González failed to protect the detained immigrants.