Migrants crossing the southern border show signs of 'worsening trauma,' including sexual assault: report
Illegal migrants crossing the U.S. southern border show signs of "worsening trauma," the Associated Press reported, including witnessing murders and experiencing kidnappings and sexual assault.
Ever since he began volunteering two months ago for weekend shifts at a clinic in one of the largest 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.
The "worsening trauma" experienced by the migrants, the AP reported, often involves witnessing murders and suffering from kidnappings and sexual assault.
"Most of our patients have symptoms of PTSD — I want to initiate a screening for every patient," Elmore, an emergency medicine doctor at Clinica Hope, told the AP.
The Catholic nonprofit Hope Border Institute opened the clinic this past fall with the help of Bishop Mark Seitz of El Paso, Texas, which borders Juarez, said the AP.
"The Hope Border Institute (HOPE) brings the perspective of Catholic social teaching to bear on the realities unique to our U.S.-Mexico border region," the group's website says.
"Through a robust program of research and policy work, leadership development and action, we work to build justice and deepen solidarity across the borderlands."
Professionals including doctors, social workers, clergy and law enforcement say growing numbers of migrants are suffering violence that amounts to torture — and are arriving at the U.S.-Mexican border in desperate need of trauma-informed medical and mental health treatment, the AP reported.
But resources for this specialized care are scarce.
And the network of shelters is so overwhelmed by new arrivals and migrants that only the most severe cases can be handled, according to the AP's reporting.
One specific example, as a case manager described: "A pregnant 13-year-old … fled gang rapes, and so [she] needs help with child care and middle school."
Zury Reyes Borrero, a case manager in Arizona with the Center for Victims of Torture, visited the young girl when she gave birth — and described the circumstances.
"We get people at their most vulnerable. Some don’t even realize they’re in the U.S.," the case manager told the AP.
In the past six months, Reyes Borrero and a colleague have helped about 100 migrants at Catholic Community Services’ Casa Alitas, a shelter in Tucson, Arizona, she said.
Each visit with a migrant can take hours.
Caseworkers try to build a rapport with the individuals — and focus on empowering them, Reyes Borrero told the AP.
This group of people "might not have any memory that’s safe," said Sarah Howell, who runs a clinical practice and a nonprofit treating migrant survivors of torture in Houston, Texas.
When she visits patients in their new Texas communities, said Howell, they routinely introduce relatives or neighbors who also need help with severe trauma; yet they reportedly lack the stability and safety necessary for healing.
Most migrants need "first-aid mental health" as well as long-term care that’s even harder to arrange once they disperse from border-area shelters to communities across the country, noted another professional.
Left untreated, such trauma can escalate to where it necessitates psychiatric care instead of therapy and self-help, Dylan Corbett, Hope Border Institute’s executive director, told the AP.
Service providers and migrants alike are saying the most dangerous spot on journeys filled with peril at every step is "la selva" — the Darien Gap jungle separating Colombia from Panama, crossed by increasing numbers of Venezuelans, Cubans and Haitians who first moved to South America and are now seeking safer lives in the United States, the AP reported.
Natural perils like deadly snakes and rivers only add to the risks of an area rife with bandits preying on migrants, the same source noted.
Meanwhile, over four million migrants have flocked to the southern border since Vice President Kamala Harris was assigned the task of addressing the "root cause" of the crisis nearly two years ago, Fox News Digital reported this weekend.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection tracked 233,000 border encounters in November.
That's a 35% increase from when Harris was assigned her role on mass migration there in March 2021.
These encounters are expected to increase after the expiration of Title 42, a pandemic-era policy under President Donald Trump that allows border agents to turn away migrants at the border.
The White House in December could not define exactly what Harris does in her role to address the mass migration.
"I don’t have anything to lay out specifically on what that work looks like," press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said at a press briefing when asked about the role of the vice president.
The vice president’s office did not respond to a request for comment.
The Associated Press, as well as Fox News Digital's Patrick Hauf, contributed reporting.