About that migrant mattress fire in Mexico...
Media accounts are busy blaming everyone but the people who lit their own mattresses on fire for an immigration detention center fire that killed 38 people in Juarez, Mexico.
According to USAToday:
The fire broke out when migrants fearing deportation set mattresses ablaze late Monday at the National Immigration Institute, a facility in Ciudad Juarez south of El Paso, Texas, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said.
Authorities originally reported 40 dead, but later said some may have been counted twice in the confusion. Twenty-eight people were injured and were in “delicate-serious” condition, according to the National Immigration Institute.
The most recent reports blame the guards, who apparently walked away without freeing their charges as the unit burned. If so, yes, blameworthy indeed, assuming there were no union rules requiring that they not do that, nor government orders suggesting the same, nor impossible-to-surmount danger to themselves. The investigation will reveal the problem. Common sense holds that if they couldn't secure their charges during a fire, their only moral obligation would be to free them and let what happens happen. For whatever reason, they didn't and the result was terrible.
But there are other excusemakers whose excuses aren't so impressive.
Start with Joe Biden's U.S. ambassador to Mexico, Ken Salazar, who was johnny-on-the-spot with the featureless cliche that the problem was the U.S. and its "broken" immigration system:
The fire serves as a "reminder to the governments of the region of the importance of fixing a broken migration system," said Ken Salazar, U.S. ambassador to Mexico, in a Twitter statement.
So his solution is to open the border and hand out U.S. citizenship to all comers?
They never say what they mean by "broken." Apparently at least some of the denizens of the center, according to NBC News, were people who had been deported from the U.S. That takes a lot of doing to get that result, given the numbers being allowed to waltz in without papers. If someone's being deported, it means the political risk of keeping them here, usually because they are criminals, outweighs the risk of sending them back. That doesn't sound like a 'broken' system, it sounds like one that is working.
Does Salazar want to un-deport them, to prevent fires at migrant centers and let them all in, America atoning for this wrongdoing?
The cynicism here is astounding.
Others blamed the concept of detention centers:
The “extensive use of immigration detention leads to tragedies like this,” Felipe González Morales, the United Nations special rapporteur for human rights of migrants, said in a Twitter statement. He said immigration detention "should be an exceptional measure" and not generalized.
Once again, an argument for open borders? We've seen what that looks like. Bzzt! Wrong!
Then there are those who went full frontal to blame the United States:
On March 9, more than 30 advocacy organizations and migrant shelters wrote an open letter denouncing the criminalization of migrants and asylum seekers in Ciudad Juarez and accusing authorities of excessive force in detaining migrants.
Mexico's migrant facilities have seen protests from time to time as the American government has pressured the country to ramp up efforts to reduce the number of migrants coming to United States.
Not a hint of criticism for the human smuggling rackets which drive, entice and organize this inhuman trade, leading to the overcrowding in the detention centers. Not a hint of blame for the cartels as U.S. calls to Mexico to not allow their country to become a cartel doormat get some kind of action.
The blame goes to the migrants who set the fire, at least some of whom did it because they were facing deportation. What did they do to get their first deportation order from the U.S. in the first place and then their Mexican one? Were they somehow entitled to stay in the U.S. as a matter of entitlement, the refusal of which entitled them to set fires? It all makes no sense.
Mexico's president said that the migrants did it unintentionally but that's more excusemaking.
What kind of people would set a mattress on fire in an enclosed space full of people thinking it will stop a deportation? It actually sounds like one of those prison fires one sees throughout Latin America, which are often done by prisoners as authorities stand by and let the unit burn with the aim to get rid of the prisoners in nations without the death penalty.
What kind of people? Prisoners? What kind of people inhabit prisons? Well in most places, it's criminals.
Do they sound like model immigrants the U.S. should automatically be letting in, as Salazar alludes to? The U.S. should insist on rule of law at its borders so that migrants don't even think of it, but even as things stand now, the U.S. isn't the bad guy -- whoever lit the mattresses ablaze, is.
Image: Screen shot from Reuters video on YouTube