HOUSTON, Texas–As thousands of illegal immigrants continue to pour into the U.S. from Central America, medical professionals and volunteers are struggling to treat sick migrants. The sheer number of immigrants–most of whom are unaccompanied minors–has made it extremely difficult to check and cure illnesses.
Most of the medical care administered to the migrants is left up to volunteers. Students from the University of Texas-Pan American (UTPA) in the physician assistant program have been helping take care of the immigrants, according to Valley Central. They soon realized the desperate need for more volunteers and medical supplies.
Dr. Frank Ambriz, UTPA Physician Assistant Program Director, told Valley Central, “What I’ve seen is just mind-boggling. A lot of the Border Patrol themselves are amazed at the amount of children that are coming, and there are limited resources as what they can do…Mothers nursing babies out in the open, kids sleeping on top of each other.”
He said that most of the children he and other volunteers encounter are suffering from dehydration.
Another concern Ambriz expressed is that many of the children do not alert authorities of illnesses because they’re afraid of being deported. He said, “They don’t tell the medical provider they are sick for fear of being deported, so the providers are looking at people that look sick and pulling them out and say, ‘let’s examine you.'”
UTPA is currently relying on donated items such as diapers, baby wipes, toothbrushes, Tylenol, and band-aids.
Breitbart Texas contributing editor and border security expert Sylvia Longmire said, “While CBP is turning away charitable donations of clothing and toys because there aren’t enough people to inspect them for safety, I’m happy that at least they’re actively asking for–and I assume accepting–much-needed medical supplies.”
Aside from dehydration, several infections and diseases have already been discovered within the migrant population–most notably, scabies.
An unknown number of illegal immigrants with scabies who were recently apprehended in the Rio Grande Valley (RGV) area passed on the infestation to several U.S. Border Patrol agents. In the face of this news, Breitbart Texas learned that the thousands of illegal immigrants detained on the Texas-Mexico border each day are not screened for diseases or infections.
“We don’t screen for diseases,” RGV Border Patrol spokesman Omar Zamora told Breitbart Texas. “All we are is a processing center, so we don’t do that.”
Volunteers–such as the medical students from UTPA–appear to be heavily relied on for identifying and helping treat diseases.
A spokeswoman from the Department of Homeland Security told Breitbart Texas that there are medical personnel at Border Patrol stations. She did not, however, specify how many medical staff members were at each station and how much attention is given to each migrant.
Longmire asked, “Why isn’t FEMA more involved in directing a medical relief effort and why isn’t the Red Cross involved if this truly is a humanitarian crisis? It’s very interesting to note that during the 1980 Mariel boatlift immigration crisis in south Florida, the Red Cross declined to get fully involved and limited its support to blankets and a few more supplies. Shortly thereafter, a representative of the Carter administration declared that the Cuban immigrants were not refugees, and the Office of Refugee Resettlement shut down its involvement as well. This was prior to the Homeland Security Act of 2002, but the way the federal government is handling (or mishandling) this crisis in light of our nation’s relatively recent history demonstrates that we have not learned from our mistakes.”
Follow Kristin Tate on Twitter @KristinBTate.