The Mexican police opened fire on migrants coming from El Salvador last week, and the investigation is still ongoing. Two men were wounded in the line of fire, and a 19-year-old woman was killed. Mexican authorities are investigating the shooting as it took place in Veracruz as the immigration enforcement has expanded at the request of the United States.
Hundreds of checkpoints and roadblocks have been set up as thousands of national guardsmen have been stationed throughout Mexico. Human rights activists are pushing for the investigations to continue to avoid as much violence and death as possible against migrants.
As the reports of the shooting were announced throughout local media, Tuesday, Veracruz’s attorney general set up a news conference to tell the story from the survivors’ point of view.
Attorney General Jorge Winckler Ortiz stated, “Seventeen migrants bound for the United States were traveling in a white truck near a checkpoint in the town of Agua Dulce when they heard sirens. The driver of the truck, who officials said was likely a smuggler, sped up. A police patrol car gave chase and eventually reached the truck. Then people wearing police uniforms opened fire. The assailants fled the scene and appear to have taken the driver with them.”
Officials in Veracruz do not feel there is any doubt the people who opened fire were police as stated by the attorney general put it, “wearing police uniforms” and “driving a patrol car.”
When additional police units arrived, they found the 19-year-old woman dead at the scene from the gunshot wounds in the passenger seat. As they investigated further, they found the woman’s father and immediate family were residing in the United States.
Ortiz’s public statements came only from the survivors of the incident. The officers on the scene were not allowed to give any statements to reporters, but they did say the eyewitnesses at the scene confirmed what was told to the authorities. The federal immigration agency, federal authorities, and state police have not returned calls or messages for any comments.
The journalists took photos of the scene showing the truck with multiple bullet holes in the windshield. Two of the male migrants who were injured were later found and taken to the nearest medical facility for treatment, then questioned by the authorities. Ortiz stated due to the sensitivity of the shooting, the investigations will continue for the next few weeks.
The president of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador stated countless times this month that the government will strictly enforce the immigration laws, and at the same time, they will honor and respect all human rights and lives with the understanding some instances cannot be avoided.
He said last week, “In many cases, they forced into exile by hunger or to save their lives, that is why they deserve all our respect.”We are going to respect the human rights of migrants.”
Critics and human rights activist are warning the Mexican government the force used was “potentially dangerous” and “unnecessary.” Former police officers and military who were stationed at certain locations have not been trained for immigration enforcement, and it has some concerned.
The director of the Mexico program at the Washington Office on Latin America, Maureen Meyer, stated, “The killing of a Salvadoran migrant woman by Mexican police is a tragic yet predictable consequence of Mexican security forces’ new role in immigration enforcement.
Unless the Mexican government ensures adequate training for any security force involved in immigration enforcement and works to hold accountable agents accused of wrongdoing, human rights violations and abuses against migrants in Mexico will only worsen as more agents are deployed throughout the country.”
In Veracruz, the Salvadoran consulate reached out to the 19-year-old’s father and immediate family in the U.S. and informed them of the details. The woman’s father is returning to El Salvador, where the woman’s body will be repatriated sometime this week.
It is understandable a lot of these migrants are leaving their countries due to hostile situations. Both the Mexican and American governments cannot stress enough how important it is to go through the proper channels.
Incidents like these should never have happened and could have easily been avoided if the proper procedures would have been followed. Running from authorities can only lead to certain death and or injuries. If they would have complied with the authorities, then the situation would not have escalated.
Migrants leave their countries to avoid hostility, but they do not calculate getting killed in the process.