Since starting two months ago as a volunteer for weekend shifts at a clinic in one of the largest emergency shelters in the border city of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, Dr. Brian Elmore has treated about 100 migrants for respiratory viruses and a handful of more serious emergencies, the Associated Press reported.
But what worries him most is something else.
Many migrants are traumatized after their long journeys north.
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The “worsening trauma” of migrants, the AP reported, often includes witnessing murders and suffering kidnapping and sexual assault.
“Most of our patients have symptoms of PTSD — I want to initiate screening for every patient,” Elmore, an emergency medical technician at Clinica Hope, told the AP.
The Catholic nonprofit Hope Border Institute opened the clinic last fall with the help of Bishop Mark Seitz of El Paso, Texas, which borders Juarez, the AP said.
“The Hope Border Institute (HOPE) brings the perspective of Catholic social teaching to realities unique to our US-Mexico border region,” the group’s website reads.
“Through a robust program of research and policy work, leadership development and action, we work to bring justice and deepen solidarity across borders.”
The emergency shelter network is so overwhelmed with newcomers and migrants that only the most severe cases can be treated, the AP reported.
Experts including doctors, social workers, clergy and law enforcement say a growing number of migrants are suffering violence amounts to torture — and arriving at the US-Mexico border in urgent need of trauma-informed medical and mental health treatment, the AP reported.
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However, the resources for this specialized care are scarce.
And the shelter network is so overwhelmed with newcomers and migrants that only the most severe cases can be treated, the AP reports.
A specific example, as one case manager described: “A pregnant 13-year-old … was escaping gang rape and all [she] needs help with childcare and middle school.”
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Zury Reyes Borrero, a case manager in Arizona at the Center for Torture Victims, visited the young girl at birth – and described the circumstances.
“We bring people into their most vulnerable form. Some don’t even realize they’re in the US,” the AP’s case manager said.
Over the past six months, Reyes Borrero and a colleague have been helping about 100 migrants at Catholic Community Services’ Casa Alitas, a shelter in Tucson, Arizona, she said.
Each visit to a migrant can take hours.
Caseworkers try to build a relationship with people — and focus on strengthening them, Reyes Borrero told the AP.
This group of people “may not have a reliable memory”.
This group of people “may not have reliable memories,” said Sarah Howell, who runs a clinical practice and nonprofit that treats migrant torture survivors in Houston, Texas.
When she visits patients in their new Texas communities, Howell says, they routinely introduce relatives or neighbors who also need help with major trauma; However, they are reported to lack the stability and security needed for healing.
Most migrants need “first aid for mental health” as well as long-term care, which is even more difficult to arrange as they disperse from shelters in border areas to communities across the country, another expert noted.
Left untreated, such trauma can escalate to where it requires psychiatric care instead of therapy and self-help, Hope Border Institute executive director Dylan Corbett told AP.
Natural hazards like deadly snakes and rivers only add to the risks.
Service providers and migrants alike say the most dangerous place on journeys fraught with danger at every step is “la selva” — the Darien Gap jungle that separates Colombia from Panama and is home to increasing numbers of Venezuelans, Cubans and Haitians who first moved to South America and are now seeking a safer life in the United States, the AP reported.
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Natural hazards like deadly snakes and rivers only add to the risks of an area teeming with bandits hunting migrants, the same source noted.
“cause” of the crisis
Meanwhile, over four million migrants have poured into the southern border since Vice President Kamala Harris was tasked with tackling the “root cause” of the crisis nearly two years ago, Fox News Digital reported this weekend.
US Customs and Border Protection tracked 233,000 border encounters in November.
That’s a 35% increase since Harris was assigned her role in the mass migration there in March 2021.
These encounters are expected to increase after Title 42 ends, a pandemic-era policy under President Donald Trump that allows border guards to turn migrants away at the border.
The White House failed to define exactly what Harris is doing in her role to address mass migration in December.
“I don’t have anything to say specifically about what this work looks like,” press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said at a news conference when asked about the role of vice president.
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The vice president’s office did not respond to a request for comment.
The Associated Press and Fox News Digital’s Patrick Hauf contributed coverage.