African Migrants Riot, Vandalize Immigration Facility in Southern Mexico

By Kimberly Hayek

Dozens of African migrants rioted and vandalized a federal immigration facility on Mexico’s southern border, demanding documentation to freely travel through the country to reach the U.S. border, according to Mexican media reports.

The migrants, mostly from Congo, Angola, and Camaroon, threw several chairs at the facility in Tapachula, Chiapas on April 2, breaking the security booth glass, according to La Jornada. They then verbally assaulted immigration officers and security personnel attempting to control the situation.

The riot started after a woman who was inside, about to be released from the facility, ran outside when she saw a family member on the other side of the fence, causing security agents to intercept her, Alerta Chiapas reported.

Dozens of migrants then broke out in protest, verbally assaulting Mexican authorities and damaging the Siglo 21 National Migration Institute (INM) office near the Guatemala border—one of the most modern migration facilities in Latin America, according to La Jornada.

The migrants said they had been camping outside of the INM center for more than two weeks, waiting to receive documentation that would allow them to travel through Mexico toward the U.S. border.

African migrants claimed that Mexican authorities have given priority to Cuban migrants and that many Cubans now have the proper documentation to continue their journey toward the United States, according to the media outlet.

???? Cientos de migrantes africanos viven hacinados en estación migratoria de Tapachula, Chiapas

Posted by Noticieros Televisa on Thursday, April 4, 2019

Ramón Verdugo, the coordinator of the migrant shelter Todo por Ellos, or ‘Everything for Them,’ said that INM officials told him the facility was too full for them to attend to all of the migrants, La Jornada reported.

It’s not clear whether the migrants involved in the riot will be deported or allowed to travel through Mexico.

Migrants Riot, Burn Mattress in Tijuana Migration Facility

In Tijuana, a group of more than 20 migrants set fire to a mattress, sheets, and blankets in a riot inside an immigration facility on April 1.

Fifty-one people were evacuated and six—including two children two- and four-years-old—had to be treated for smoke inhalation, according to reports.

INM has not revealed the identity of the alleged perpetrators of the riot, but said that some of them have a criminal record, according to Frontera.

“There is a Cuban citizen who has been disjunctive in recent days, who precisely, at the end of his sentence, is waiting to be accredited by the government of Cuba,” the head of INM in Baja California, Rodulfo Figuera Pacheco, said.

The Cuban national has been in prison for rape and kidnapping.

Federal authorities told the news outlet that all 51 of the illegal immigrants evacuated from the facility will be deported to their country of origin.

Though the motive is still unknown, Rodulfo Figueroa believes the migrants started the riot because they were unhappy with their accommodations at the border city.

“It was not a problem of overcrowding. It was a problem of a couple of people, who did not agree with their housing situation, wanting to create a disturbance, which resulted in this,” Figueroa said, according to Unidad Radio.

“Fortunately, and thanks to the support of the firemen, the Red Cross, civil protection, the municipal police and the federal police, this was resolved without any incident.”