Is migrating a crime?

Migratory Station where fire broke out. Photo: La Verdad

A La Jornada Editorial

It is devastating that episodes have become increasingly frequent in which dozens of people lose their lives at some point in their journey to reach US territory, and that many of them meet a tragic end when they thought they had achieved their dream, since Washington expels them automatically and arbitrarily, in open violation of the human right to asylum. The U.S. responsibility for tragedies like that of Monday in Ciudad Juarez is all the more palpable considering that migrants repelled by its border guards meet all the eligibility requirements for asylum, as they are survivors of the insecurity, violence and other scourges that plague their regions of origin.

Mexico has been caught between the incessant flow of human beings who travel the continent with the conviction that in the United States is the opportunity they seek to raise their families, develop professionally or be safe from direct or indirect threats to their life and physical integrity, and the stubbornness of the political class in Washington in rejecting any humanitarian solution.  sensible and realistic to the migratory phenomenon. In addition to being cruel to migrants, this lack of political will is unfair to our country by involving it in a human drama that has no reason to exist, since the U.S. economy requires foreign labor as much as migrants need a source of employment.

Last Monday’s tragedy [1] shows that it is imperatively necessary for Mexico to abandon all forms of tacit collaboration with the atrocious US immigration policies and assert its sovereignty in this area. That is, it should no longer be accepted that our country continues to be used by Washington as a destination for the expulsion of migrants.

On the other hand, there is no binational circumstance that serves as a pretext or justification for unpresentable migratory actions in national territory. For example, the provisional stay of the National Institute of Migration in Ciudad Juárez did not function as an accommodation or a shelter, but as a center of deprivation of liberty, as was clear in the media conference presented yesterday by the head of the Secretariat of Security and Citizen Protection (SSPC), Rosa Icela Rodríguez, and the human rights prosecutor of the Attorney General’s Office (FGR), Sara Irene Herrerías.

It is inadmissible from every point of view that people are imprisoned for migrating, because if this is a crime, we would have to consider the millions of Mexicans criminals who live in the United States and who, through remittances, are a pillar of our economy. Because of its history, its deep link with migration and a mere ethical imperative, Mexico cannot criminalize human displacements of the same type that it has been asking for decades not to be criminalized when it concerns our fellow citizens.

[1] 39 migrants died and 27 were injured in a fire that broke out at a migratory station in Ciudad Juarez on Monday, March 27, 2023. The migrants were locked in their cells, like prisoners.

Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada, Thursday, March 30, 2023, and Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

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