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Border Wall Falls Leave Migrants Vulnerable to Severe Injuries

Migrants are rushed daily by ambulances to hospitals in El Paso, San Diego, and Tucson, Ariz., after crashing to the ground while trying to climb over the wall that separates Mexico and the U.S. for long stretches of the border, the New York Times reports. Men and women arrive on stretchers writhing in pain, bones poking out of arms and legs; skulls cracked; spines shattered, flanked by an agent in the green uniform of the U.S. Border Patrol. “One look, and I know it’s another wall fall,” said Brian Elmore, an emergency medicine physician at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center in El Paso. In a quest to stop unauthorized immigration, the U.S. government has in recent years extended the length and height of the fortifications, and a new stretch has been authorized by the Biden administration.

Many migrants have been undaunted by the barriers, and for hundreds of them, the result has been debilitating injuries that require multiple surgeries, according to physicians working in U.S. hospitals near the border. President Trump, who made “the wall” central to his immigration agenda, ordered construction in California of a double-layered, 30-foot-tall steel bollard barrier to replace more than 400 miles of fencing that ranged from eight feet to 17 feet in height. Since it was completed in 2019, the number of wall-fall patients admitted to the trauma center at U.C. San Diego Health Trauma Center has increased to 311 in 2022. This year, that number is expected to surpass 350, according to the hospital, which said the number of deaths from falls has gone from zero between 2016 and 2019 to 23 since then. “The problem is getting worse and worse,” said Dr. Jay Doucet, chief of the trauma unit at U.C. San Diego Health.


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