Climbing over the border wall, migrants suffer terrible injuries and spend huge sums on treatment - ForumDaily
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Climbing over the border wall, migrants suffer horrific injuries and spend huge sums on treatment

Every day, ambulances deliver them to hospitals in El Paso (Texas), San Diego (California) and Tucson (Arizona). They are writhing in pain - bones are protruding from their arms and legs, their skulls are broken, their spines are broken. The men and women are transported on stretchers, accompanied by an agent wearing the distinctive green U.S. Border Patrol uniform. Illegal immigrants are not afraid of any injuries when trying to get into the United States. How their lives turn out later, the publication told The New York Times.

Photo: IStock

“One look and I know this is another wall coming down,” says Brian Elmore, an emergency physician at Texas Tech University Health Science Center in El Paso.

The patients are all migrants who fell to the ground while trying to climb over the wall that separates Mexico and the United States along large parts of the border.

In an effort to stop illegal immigration, the US government has increased the length and height of the fortifications in recent years, and US President Joe Biden's administration has authorized construction of a new site. However, many migrants are not stopped by the barriers, and for hundreds of them, the result is varying degrees of bodily harm. The injuries require multiple surgeries, according to doctors working in American hospitals near the border.

On the subject: The Biden administration has repealed 26 federal laws to build a border wall.

The 45th President of the United States, Donald Trump, who made the “wall” the main point of his immigration program, ordered the construction of a two-layer barrier of steel posts 30 feet (9,1 m) high in California, which was supposed to replace more than 400 miles (643 km) of high fences. from 8 to 17 feet (2,4-5,1 m).

Since the completion of the project in 2019, the number of patients admitted to the UC San Diego Health trauma center due to falls from walls has increased sevenfold, to 2022 in 311. This year the number is projected to be 350. The number of deaths from falls has risen from zero between 2016 and 2019 to 23.

There is no comprehensive record of border wall-related injuries and deaths, but doctors working along the border have increased efforts to track and study fall-related injuries and deaths. They note that the increase in injuries in recent years is significant even as border apprehensions increase, and the influx of severely injured patients is straining U.S. hospitals along the border.

Caring for such patients can be a significant financial burden, as migrants are typically uninsured and often require multiple complex surgeries and lengthy hospital stays.

“The problem is getting worse,” said Dr. Jay Doucet, director of trauma surgery at UC San Diego Health, located about 15 miles (24,1 kilometers) from the Tijuana-San Ysidro border crossing. “And the hospital is suffering a big loss.”

Spending on migrant care at San Diego's two trauma centers—UC San Diego Health and Scripps Mercy Hospital—increased from $11 million between 2016 and 2019 to $72 million between 2020 and June 2022 (the latest available data).

The current network of walls was created in the 1990s under President Bill Clinton, and every administration since then has built barriers, with President Trump making the “wall” the centerpiece of his immigration agenda.

President Biden, who defeated Trump in 2020, mocked Trump's focus on the wall. However, Biden recently authorized the expansion of barriers in South Texas, saying his administration could not prevent the use of millions of dollars allocated by Congress in 2019 to build the wall.

But Biden has been under pressure to take a tougher stance on illegal immigration, which is draining government resources and increasing criticism of the president ahead of the 2024 election.

Trump, who is seeking the Republican presidential nomination, and aides who worked with him during his time in the White House are developing a plan to revive many of his administration's anti-immigration policies and, in some cases, even more aggressive approaches.

In the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, agents made more than 2,4 million apprehensions, a record high, at a time when more people around the world are fleeing their countries than ever for a range of reasons, such as political upheaval, economic hardship and extreme weather.

When asked to comment on the fall from the walls and the impact on border hospital operations, U.S. Customs and Border Protection said: “U.S. Customs has a simple message for those contemplating entering the United States illegally across the southern border: Don't do it! When migrants cross the border illegally, they put their lives at risk.”

Adam Hosein, an associate professor of philosophy at Northeastern University who studies the ethics of border policy, said migrants crossing deserts and jungles to escape hardship are operating under conditions of "extreme coercion."

“These are people who are willing to risk everything to get here,” said Mr. Hosein, the author of a book on the ethics of migration. “The wall has virtually no effect and causes enormous harm for which the United States bears responsibility.”

Rosemary Cepeda, 40, arrived in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, in early May after traveling for months from Venezuela.

She said she tried to use the U.S. government's mobile app to make an appointment in El Paso through an official port of entry. But the demand for places is very high, and she was unable to sign up, so she decided to take a chance.

“I had no choice but to climb the wall,” she explained. “I have three children in Venezuela who need to be supported.”

Descending in the dark, Cepeda fell to the ground and broke her left leg and foot. She was taken to a hospital in El Paso and underwent several operations to realign and fix the bones. She was in a wheelchair for several months.

Alexander Tenorio, a neurosurgeon at the University of California, San Diego, operated on migrants with wounds that penetrated the skull. Others suffered brain damage that permanently left them unable to speak, walk or care for themselves. Many required intubation to breathe, underwent multiple surgeries and spent months in the hospital.

Last year, UC San Diego had to convert its postpartum ward into a ward for border casualties. Treatment of seriously injured migrants affects the provision of care to the local population. For example, wait times for spinal surgeries have increased from three days to almost two weeks.

“This is just at our center,” said Dr. Tenorio, who testified before Congress in July and co-authored three papers on traumatic neurological injury associated with high-height wall construction. “This is an untold, heartbreaking story of unnecessary human suffering.”

Smugglers often attach makeshift ladders to the wall on the Mexican side, which they hold up as migrants climb to the top. During the descent, clinging only to the slats on the other side, mostly at night, migrants often slip or let go of their hands too early, so they fall from a dangerous height onto American soil.

In the El Paso sector, a 260-mile (418 km) stretch of border where barrier heights range from 18 to 30 feet (5,4 to 9,1 m), lower extremity fractures are most common, often resulting in multiple bone fractures and require more than one operation.

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“These types of injuries are common after car or motorcycle accidents, but not as common as here,” explains Rajeev Rajani, chairman of the department of orthopedic surgery and rehabilitation at Texas Tech University El Paso Health Science Center and co-author of a recent study on falls. border.

Because most migrants do not receive follow-up care, such as physical therapy or X-rays, which are critical to a full recovery, injuries are often “life-changing,” he said.

Erwin Gomez, 26, another migrant from Venezuela, broke his left forearm last spring when he lost his grip while abseiling down a wall in the El Paso area.

Border Patrol agents took him to Texas Tech Health, where he underwent two surgeries. He had plates inserted into his forearm, as well as screws to stabilize the bones and heal them, and the skin was sewn together.

Five months later, while in Dallas, Gomez said he removed the braces himself and was unable to complete prescribed physical therapy.

“Now I’m unable to work because I can’t lift weights,” said Gomez, who served as a sergeant in the Venezuelan army. “And without a job, I can’t afford any treatment.”

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