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Dozens killed in deadly fire at Mexico-US border migrant center: Reports

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Mexican authorities and firefighters remove injured migrants, mostly Venezuelans, from inside the National Migration Institute (INM) building during a fire, in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico March 27, 2023. (Photo by Reuters)

At least 37 people have been killed at an immigration detention center in a Mexican city on the US border after a fire broke out at the facility overnight, the AP news agency cited an official as saying on Tuesday.

The official told the news agency that at least 29 others were injured in the blaze after the facility run by the National Migration Institute (INM) in Ciudad Juarez went up in flames.

The cause of the fire was not immediately known, as rescue teams, firefighters and local police were responding to the scene, Mexican media reported.

The country's prosecutor general has ordered an investigation, Andrea Chávez, federal deputy of Ciudad Juarez, said in a statement on Facebook.

A rescuer said there were about 70 migrants, mostly Venezuelans, at the site when the fire broke out.

Vinagly, a Venezuelan woman, stood outside the immigration center, desperate for information about her 27-year-old husband who had been detained there.

"He was taken away in an ambulance," she told AFP, adding that her husband had documents allowing him to remain in Mexico. "They (immigration officials) don't tell you anything. A family member can die and they don't tell you he's dead."

Ciudad Juarez, which neighbors El Paso, Texas, is one of the border cities where undocumented migrants seeking refuge in the US remain stranded.

According to a recent report by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), since 2014, some 7,661 migrants have died or disappeared en route to the US while 988 died in accidents or while traveling in difficult conditions.  

The Biden administration has tried to curb the flow of migrants and asylum seekers into the US by introducing tougher, harsher restrictions.

According to these new regulations, migrants will no longer be eligible for asylum if they simply cross into the United States at the border. Instead, they must first apply for asylum in one of the countries they pass through, or they can do so online using an app from the US government.

Every month, about 200,000 people attempt to cross the Mexican-American border mostly from Central and South America, requesting asylum.

The Biden administration has faced blistering criticism from immigrant advocates and progressive Democratic leaders who have urged the president to do more to uphold his government's responsibility towards refugees and asylum seekers.

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