Mexico detains migrant children in cramped holding center despite court ruling

Published August 10, 2019, 8:38 AM

by Gabriela Baron & Minka Klaudia Tiangco

By Reuters

MEXICO CITY– Overcrowding, prison-like conditions, bed bugs and illness are among the complaints of migrants in a Mexico City detention center that holds dozens of minors two months after a court ruled it was unconstitutional.

The facade of the holding center of Mexico's National Migration Institute (INM), know as "Las Agujas", is pictured at Iztapalapa neighborhood in Mexico City, Mexico August 5, 2019. Picture taken August 5, 2019. (REUTERS/Edgard Garrido/MANILA BULLETIN)
The facade of the holding center of Mexico’s National Migration Institute (INM), know as “Las Agujas”, is pictured at Iztapalapa neighborhood in Mexico City, Mexico August 5, 2019. Picture taken August 5, 2019. (REUTERS/Edgard Garrido/MANILA BULLETIN)

Under the threat of economic sanctions from US President Donald Trump, Mexico has stepped up migrant detentions this year to stem a surge in asylum-seekers from Central America.

Known as Las Agujas, the Mexico City holding center enclosed by spike-topped walls in the eastern district of Iztapalapa held about 108 minors as of this week, some of whom are unaccompanied, said Jesus Quintana, who monitors the station for the Mexican human rights ombudsman’s office (CNDH).

In June, a court ruled it unconstitutional for Las Agujas to hold children after a 10-year-old Guatemalan girl died in its custody. Mexico’s National Migration Institute (INM), which runs the center, has not appealed the decision, but told Reuters it observes the laws protecting migrants in “each and every case”.

Las Agujas is part of a network of centers the government has vowed to upgrade. The detention of minors has increased concerns about treatment of migrants by the Mexican government in its push to reduce the flow of people north.

“What they have are facilities similar to prisons,” said Ana Saiz, director of Sin Fronteras, one of four migrant advocacy groups that took Las Agujas to court after the Guatemalan girl died in May. “This practice (of detaining children) goes against human rights and is illegal in Mexico.”

 
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