MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico President Andrés Manuel López Obrador on Wednesday criticized a directive from his own immigration agency that temporarily barred access to the country’s immigration detention centers for nonprofit organizations that monitor conditions and assist migrants.
The National Immigration Institute had said Tuesday that access for civic, activist and religious groups to the detention centers would be temporarily suspended. It said that “rescheduling the visits will depend on the work load of each migrant center, with the goal of providing services to the migrants to continue without interruption.”
The Interior Ministry, which oversees the institute, however, said later via Twitter that the suspension was “not authorized by superiors” and “disavowed” the statement.
@INAMI_mx informa que, mañana se notificará a asociaciones religiosas y organizaciones de la sociedad civil, sobre nuevas fechas para su ingreso a Estaciones y Estancias Migratorias; refrendamos el compromiso con la transparencia y el respeto a los #DDHH👉 https://t.co/jlE5qKU8Dc pic.twitter.com/j5rGZVOsnS
— INM (@INAMI_mx) January 29, 2020
López Obrador also objected, saying it is “prohibited to prohibit everything, almost everything.”
He defended his administration’s tougher immigration enforcement at the southern border, but insisted there must be transparency.
“How can you imagine that we are going to leave religious groups, members of civil society, social organizations without the ability to enter?” López Obrador said.
Such groups have been an important independent voice about conditions inside the detention centers, which are not open to the public and the press.
Last week, Mexico national guardsmen and immigration agents broke up the latest migrant caravan hours after its members crossed the southern border from Guatemala. Hundreds were detained.