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Asylum-seekers suffer a myriad of health problems at border camps

As more migrants apply for legal entry into the United States, conditions at makeshift camps in Mexican border towns deteriorate leaving many suffering from chronic mental health and illness-related problems.

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    Migrant border camps in Mexico

    As migrants flock to the U.S. southern border with Mexico to apply for asylum, more and more border camps are erected each year. Years ago, asylum-seekers were either detained in facilities on U.S. soil or released into the United States while they wait for their immigration proceedings to take place.

    Now, due to recent U.S. immigration policies like Title 42 coupled with more and more traffic at the border, asylum seekers and refugees are forced to wait in Mexican border towns for their chance to apply for legal U.S. entry. While they wait, many migrants face unsanitary conditions and severe health risks.

    masked migrants

    Health risks at migrant camps

    As migrants make the long trek to the U.S.-Mexico border, many develop health conditions along the way. Due to unsanitary conditions and lack of clean water encountered on both the journey and life in border camps, many refugees and asylum-seekers contract gastrointestinal issues, communicable respiratory illnesses like flu, pneumonia, and Covid-19, and skin conditions. These conditions could further be exacerbated by trauma and stress.

    Some individuals who made the trip to the border with pre-existing medical conditions such as diabetes and hypertension have found that their illnesses have worsened. Many camps that take in migrants find that the majority of them need immediate medical attention which puts a strain on the resources of shelters that are not U.S. funded and can therefore not afford adequate medical care and testing.

    How U.S. immigration policies made conditions worse for migrants

    Many of the problems refugees and asylum-seekers face at the border are caused by U.S. immigration policies put in place by the Trump administration. Due to these policies, many migrants are turned away or made to wait in Mexico instead of the past practice of holding them in facilities run and funded by the U.S. government or releasing them into the country on temporary parole.

    As a result of these policies, Mexico and other private organizations have been forced to deal with the ever-increasing traffic of migrants at the border. Many shelters that house individuals who are waiting for their immigration cases to be heard by the United States, suffer from overcrowding and underfunding. Shelters are forced to rely on charitable donations and medical volunteers to help feed, house, and treat an increasing number of migrants who are trekking long distances to apply for asylum.

    Those who are housed in temporary shelters will be susceptible to dangers such as human trafficking, sexual assault, and murder. Due to worsening conditions for asylum-seekers at the U.S.-Mexico border, many migrants are now considering entering the United States illegally which they consider to be the safer option for themselves and their families.

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