Garduño Keeps INM Position as Judge Confirms Criminal Links to Juárez Fire

Mexico’s National Institute of Migration Director Francisco Garduño. Photo: Segob


Following the fallout of the deadly March 27 fire at Mexico’s National Institute of Migration (INM) facility in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, Mexican Judge Víctor Manlio Hernández Calderón officially linked controversial INM Director Francisco Garduño as a responsible party in the lethal incident during a Sunday, April 30, hearing against the migration official – all while Secretary of the Interior (Segob) Adán Augusto López Hernández confirmed that Garduño will indefinitely maintain his position as the head of Mexico’s immigration processes in the wake of the scandal.

Almost 10 hours into the hearing, Judge Hernández Calderón ruled that there was sufficient evidence that Garduño failed to perform his specified duties, which ultimately led to the “easily avoidable” death of the 40 Latin American migrants at the INM detention facility last March.

Garduño, who received his post as INM director under the administration of Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) in 2019, began answering for his alleged crimes after the opening of criminal proceedings against him by the Attorney General of the Republic (FGR) on April 11, which alleged that Garduño purportedly participated “in alleged criminal conduct by failing to comply with obligations to monitor, protect and provide security to the people and facilities under their charge, and promoting the crimes committed against migrants.”

While Garduño’s defense team argued at the hearing that Garduño’s obligations to oversee the immigration of 4 million foreigners into Mexico annually – almost half of which enter the country irregularly – made it impossible for the official to efficiently oversee every aspect of the INM’s jurisdiction, Judge Hernández Calderón agreed with the FGR’s view that the blame for the Ciudad Juárez INM facility fire — as well as its proven prison-like operations, cell overcrowding and issues on food, water and sanitation — fall on the shoulders of Garduño.

At the end of the hearing, Judge Hernández Calderón ruled to commence a four-month investigation into Garduño’s responsibility for the crimes, requiring that Garduño check in with the court every 15 days and banning the INM official from leaving Mexico for the time being, though deciding not to order Garduño’s preventative detention.

But while the ultimate fate of the criminal proceedings and investigation against Garduño remain to be seen, López Hernández confirmed that Garduño’s role at the head of the INM is secure for the time being, the Segob official announced during a press conference on Monday, May 1.

For his part, Garduño commented on his case on the Chihuahua Federal Criminal Justice Center’s courthouse steps while leaving Sunday’s hearings.

“You have already heard that I was linked to the process. The trial is not over; I am still in the constitutional condition of keeping silent, not making statements in relation to the criminal process. So I continue to accept the constitutional guarantee,” said Garduño. 

“I will continue working at the National Institute of Migration as long as the contrary is not ordered, and I will be very attentive to the efforts for comprehensive reparation of damages.” 

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