To the Southern Border!

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Matamoros, Mexico across from Brownsville, TX

Meanwhile…. I was recently filled with an urge to see for my self what conditions were like at our border with Mexico. I was making plans and back up plans for where I might be able to do an elective rotation during my formal residency training in Family Medicine, when I happened upon an article from NPR highlighting the troubles and needs there. I began reaching out to my contacts in the humanitarian world and ultimately happened upon an agreement with Global Response Management. I have been here for three weeks now, with one more to go.

-GRM has been present on the ground since at least 2020 when the border had another surge. They worked to establish connections with as many local specialists as possible then run a daily outpatient clinic for people in dire need.
I’ve been working alongside two Mexican doctors. We have a reliable if basic EMR and a well stocked pharmacy. I am surprised by the amount of OB patients I see and I am glad I brushed up on my French because I happen to be seeing more people from Haiti than South or  Central America.

The stories I hear are heavy. All of them touched with grief and trauma. Fleeing violence at home and along the way and the danger of exploitation only mounts as they get closer to the Mexico-US border where they are easy targets for cartel.

The camp that was here until just before I arrived has its own unique story and has been featured in NPR. Long story short it was torn down, under contrived optics to make it seem like a great thing was happening for the people suffering in these conditions. While people were certainly suffering, they had walls around them and a small measure of safety, hygiene, and community. The camp was torn down to allow many thousands of migrants into the US(the optics), which is wonderful for those few. Now, however, there is no camp for the still thousands pouring into the area. They have nowhere to go but the streets or other privately arranged accommodation which usually takes a heavy financial toll and is extremely dangerous.

My last day in clinic I was able to see a woman and her family. She was with child, 8.5 months along, and  had all the hallmark signs of pre eclampsia. We were fortunate to somehow get an emergency override to allow her to get the treatment she and her baby needed to be seen in a hospital stateside. This was thanks to dedicated lawyers who were not part of GRM but offering their help in solidarity with the refugees.  She and her family were some of the very few I saw this happen for.

I may write more about what I heard from others in future posts. Suffice to say for now, these people did not aspire to become refugees, nor would the wish their fate on others. Even those who’ve “made it” to America have a long road ahead of them.

This post is now over a year past due.  I’m not sure why I hesitated so long to finish it. Likely because I wanted to offer some insight that would be profound enough to sway people’s hearts and minds on the issues facing our southern border. Not sure that I have any such thing. It’s complicated. World governments at every turn are failing these people including our own. Having seen their plight firsthand, however, my hope is that we find a humane way to facilitate asylum seekers and other forms of refugees that want nothing more than a better world for those they cherish.