Hector Barrientos came to Mexico with his family to seek asylum, from Guatemala. His displacement over Mexican territory coincided with the start of the Covid-19 pandemic and he stayed at the Tenosique Migration Station. He was unaware that this would be his last stop. Faced with the lack of medical and health supplies and of minimum measures to face the pandemic, on March 31 several migrants decided to start a demonstration. Héctor was caught in what turned into a riot inside the immigration station that culminated in a fire. The state police or National Guard who should have protected them, they decided to block the exit. It was as a result of this that Héctor lost his life.
The causes that led to the death of Mr. Barrientos have not been investigated, nor have any responsibilities been established regarding the police and military who were present and blocked the exit. This is just one of many stories of victims who have lost their lives amid the federal government’s confusing immigration policy.
Along with 23 other organizations, the Foundation for Justice and the Democratic Rule of Law, they documented the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on migrants and refugees. It is not enough to replicate here the context in which they place the migrant population in the face of the health crisis: “The Covid-19 pandemic has claimed many lives around the world, however, the vulnerability of people is not the same. There are sectors of the population that are in a situation of structural discrimination and of greater vulnerability, such as migrants or people in a situation of mobility, whose condition worsens in the context of a pandemic due to the restriction in access to universal rights such as health, food, housing and work ”.
The alarming and undoubtedly most relevant part of the report refers to the way in which authorities have failed to comply with their obligations to guarantee the right to health and life of migrants and asylum seekers in Mexico. The organizations denounce that they have not even managed to get Dr. Hugo López-Gatell to give them a meeting to present the findings. They blame the Ministry of Health, the Health Council, the National Institute for Migration, the Comar and the Ministry of Foreign Relations for the critical state in which the migrants have been exposed.
Over the course of the pandemic, deportations of migrants from the US to various countries in the region have not stopped, despite outbreaks of Covid within US immigration detention centers. Likewise, the closure of the borders between the US and Mexico due to the pandemic has increased the risk situation for migrants who were already in northern Mexico under the “Stay in Mexico” program.
Everything indicates that, in the US election year, the government of Mexico has adjusted its immigration policy to meet the interests of the neighboring country, with which Donald Trump stands out well before his followers, although this implies the loss of life and attempts against the health and integrity of those who pass through our territory.
Several of these organizations presented amparos to protect the migrants. They have received broad and protective resolutions and others that violate the rights of migrants. The report is forceful in stating that the role of the Judiciary will be fundamental to guarantee the rights of the migrant population. So be it.