“Migrants recognize the value of traveling with a child”
Santa Fe New Mexican, Antelope Wells, NM – Half a dozen children gazed up at the camera, their eyes wide beneath hats and hoodies, hands buried in their pockets or nuzzled in the necks of their mothers.
Floodlights illuminated some faces and left others in darkness.
It was after midnight in New Mexico’s remote desert region, and with the temperature hovering near freezing, a Border Patrol agent snapped the photo.
Nearly 150 miles away, the tiny emergency room of the Gila Regional Medical Center in Silver City — the nearest 24-hour hospital — was on notice.
Some of the children would need medical care for illness, others for injury.
“The most pressing concern is health care”
“The Border Patrol has been very cooperative in giving us advanced warning,” said Doug Oakes, director of marketing for GRMC. “There are just so many. They are dehydrated. They are often sick.”
As the Trump administration shifted tactics to deter asylum seekers from crossing the border, authorities in New Mexico say the humanitarian needs have only grown.
The most pressing concern is health care, especially for kids.
Two Guatemalan children died in Border Patrol custody in December, underscoring the extreme risks the youngest migrants face on the arduous, more than 2,000-mile journey.
“Please send emergency medical services to assist us with the overwhelming number of immigrants coming in daily.”
Border Patrol reported that one of the adults in the group of 306 that arrived last week was suffering from a “flesh-eating bacteria,” or necrotizing fasciitis — an infection that rarely spreads person to person.
For the kids, “the risks are enormous,” said Marlene Baska, a physician assistant who runs a clinic in Animas — a Bootheel ranching town with a population of 267 — that sees children in Border Patrol custody …
On Dec. 26, Hidalgo County Manager Tisha Green fired off “an urgent request” to then governor-elect Michelle Lujan Grisham and the state’s congressional delegation pleading for assistance.
“Our Hidalgo County Emergency Medical Services team consists of seven full-time employees and five volunteers” who cover 5,000 square miles, she wrote. “Please send emergency medical services to assist us with the overwhelming number of immigrants coming in daily.”
Since October, at least 26 groups of more than 100 people have crossed near the tiny Antelope Wells port of entry — a more than 200 percent increase from the eight large groups reported in fiscal year 2018, according to Border Patrol.
Among the largest groups were two in January, of 247 and 306 people, that swamped the few agents on overnight duty at a forward operating base at the crossing …
“Border Patrol needs more than EMTs,” Whipple said. “They need an RN or PA or someone of a higher level, so people get proper screenings. But they are not set up for it. They were never set up for families coming across.” Read more.