/ Modified mar 7, 2019 10:26 a.m.

Mexico Closes 5 Immigrant Detention Centers

A statement from the federal immigration agency cited a lack of "minimum working conditions" at the facilities.

Mexico seal flag An immigrant detention center in Nogales, Sonora, is one of five recently closed by the Mexican federal immigration agency.
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Mexico’s federal immigration agency shuttered five of its detention centers late last month, as the agency’s new chief says he wants to improve the treatment of undocumented migrants.

The closings included the detention center in Reynosa, across the border from McAllen, Texas, just days after the director of that office was fired. A report from TV network Telemundo had found officials at that office had extorted migrants being held there, and officials have said they’re investigating the complaints.

The remaining closures were in Nogales, across the border from Nogales, Arizona, on the coasts in Acapulco, Guerrero, and Tuxpan, Veracruz; and toward southern Mexico in Morelia, Michoacan.

"The National Migration Institute has closed [the facilities] for lacking minimum working conditions for shelter and services," a statement from the agency said.

Top immigration officials, appointed by the newly elected President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, appear to be making an effort to reform the agency, said Gretchen Kuhner, director of the Institute for Women in Migration, a Mexico City-based nonprofit.

"There’s more of an effort by the new commissioner to begin to close detention centers that he knows are poorly run, don't have sufficient resources," Kuhner said.

Mexico has 48 detention centers where undocumented migrants — a majority from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala — are held. Mexico has deported more than half a million migrants from Central America in the last five years, many of whom were trying to reach the U.S.

Fronteras Desk
This story is from the Fronteras Desk, a collaboration of Southwestern public radio stations, including NPR 89.1. Read more from the Fronteras Desk.
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