- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 28, 2020

MEXICO CITY (AP) - Mexico’s immigration agency announced Tuesday that it has temporarily suspended visits by civic, activist and religious groups to migrant detention centers, though its parent department later seemed to be backing away from the move.

Such visits have long served as a safeguard to check on the treatment of migrants, some of whom have complained in the past of crowding, prolonged detention and unsatisfactory conditions. The U.N. Human Rights office in Mexico wrote that the work of such civic groups “is a key contribution” to migrants.

The National Immigration Institute did not give a reason for suspending visits, saying only 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 institute said it would notify the groups when they would be allowed back into the centers, which are generally closed to the press and public.

However, the Interior Department, which oversees the institute, later wrote in its Twitter account that the suspension was “not authorized by superiors” and said it “disavowed” the announcement. It was unclear whether that meant visits would now be allowed.

The move came just days after hundreds of Central American migrants were detained after attempting to enter Mexico from Guatemala as part of a caravan.

The institute said U.N. human rights and refugee officials had been allowed to visit one of the largest detention centers, located in the southern city of Tapachula, on Friday.

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