The Associated Press reported that a portion of a large migrant camp was set ablaze in Matamoros, just across the Texas-Mexico border on Wednesday and Thursday.
Gladys Canas of Ayudandoles A Triunfar, a group that advocates for migrants, said: “The people fled when their tents were burnt.”
The outlet said that the roughly two dozen rudimentary tents were located on the edge of a larger camp with about 2,000 people. Most of the migrants in the encampment come from Venezuela, Haiti, and Mexico.
Photos of the destroyed tents show a grass and dirt-covered clearing strewn with plastic tarps, cardboard, debris, and a lean-to-type structure. A dirt path is shown passing through the area.
The outlet reported that no deaths or serious injuries were reported.
Juan Jose Rodriguez of the Tamaulipas Institute for Migrants state agency says that migrants started the fire as they were frustrated by the mobile app developed by the United States to schedule appointment times for people who want to come to the border and make an asylum claim. The state agency denied knowing that gangs were responsible for the fire.
A Mexican woman named “Margarita” spoke with the outlet under the condition that the last name of the witness would not be revealed. Margarita claimed that despite gangs’ threats to migrants crossing the river illegally, they continued. Some of these criminals are said to extort money from migrants in exchange for safe passage across the territory that they control.
Matamoros is located in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas and sits on its southern bank. Brownsville, Texas is located directly across the river on the northern bank.
As previously reported a fire in Ciudad Juarez on March 28 resulted in the deaths of 39 migrants and the injuries of 29 others. Ciudad Juarez lies just across the border in El Paso, Texas. The migrants who were detained in that fire reportedly started the fire to protest their deportation.
We also reported that four Americans were kidnapped violently in Matamoros on March 3. The New York Post reported that Latvia McGee (34), one of the South Carolina residents who survived, was arrested for allegedly contributing towards the delinquency and violence of a child by bringing a firearm to a fight between children.
The fire in the encampment at Matamoros comes as officials prepare for a massive influx of migrants due to the ending of Title 42. Title 42, a Trump-administration policy that permitted U.S. authorities to turn back migrants based on the public health emergency brought about by COVID, is scheduled to end on May 11.