Mexican Judges Order the Release of More Than 2,000 Detained Migrants Over Health Pandemic

By Jason Peña on April 22, 2020

On Sunday, Mexican Federal District Judge Arturo Israel Dominguez Adame ordered the release of more than 2,000 migrants detained by the National Institute of Migration (INM) to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

Under Judge Adame's decree, INM was instructed to immediately release detained foreign nationals and provide temporary residency for them in Mexico. Additionally, migrants will be eligible for health, social, and other government services. New health protocols were also introduced in the 65 INM detention facilities to decrease instances of migrants contracting Covid-19.

Adame said in his ruling that INM should "immediately release people who are detained in immigration stations who are a part of a vulnerable group at risk of acquiring the disease and" opt for other ways of managing the disease in Mexico.

The ruling received support from over 40 advocacy and charity organizations, notably the migrants' rights group Sin Fronteras (which means "without borders"). A number of activist groups had filed legal action against the Mexican government, claiming that many agencies were not sufficiently protecting aliens from Covid-19.

Similarly, on Saturday, Mexican First District Judge Johnathan Bass Herrera ordered the release of detained migrants with chronic diseases, those with disabilities, and minors.

Border closures by several Central American nations due to Covid-19 have prevented Mexican immigration authorities from returning migrants to their home countries. Mexican immigration detention centers have faced overcrowding and a lack of adequate resources to contain the thousands of migrants under their supervision.

According to the INM, more than 21,000 Central American migrants were stranded in Mexico due to Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras turning away citizens or aliens seeking to enter those countries.