At least 40 people died Tuesday as the result of a blaze that erupted in a migrant center in Ciudad Juárez.
Mexican President Manuel Lopez Obrador said he thinks the fire was started by migrants who had just learned that they would be deported, though the cause is still being investigated.
Surveillance footage obtained by the Associated Press shows detained migrants setting mattresses against the cell’s bars and lighting them on fire. As the flames grew stronger, the video shows guards walking away. Approximately 29 more were injured in the inferno.
The tragedy comes amid a global refugee crisis and tensions along the border. Refugees seeking asylum in the United States have to wait in Mexico due to Title 42, the pandemic-era policy that allowed border officials to more easily halt migrant entries.
There are concerns over the lack of necessary infrastructure to accommodate refugees along the Mexican border. Shelters are rapidly filled, and humanitarian agencies worry that authorities are treating migrants as criminals, with some criticizing the act of detaining migrants as unjust.
With the escalating tensions has come overcrowded detention centers and protests, and multiple riots. Earlier in March, hundreds of largely Venezuelan migrants attempted to gain forceful entry into El Paso under the belief that the U.S. would welcome them, but they were stifled by U.S. border authorities.
Advocates for migrants allege that the detention facility in which so many perished was not only overcrowded, but that it had poor ventilation as well.