In a previous AccessDenied post, I considered how the institutional culture of the U.S. Border Patrol often neglects the medical needs of migrants. Despite policies calling for “humane treatment,” agents regularly destroy humanitarian water bottles in the desert, allow overcrowding in detention, deny medications, and commit acts of physical violence. Moreover, as Seth Holmes writes in a recent post, the Border Patrol’s stated policy of “prevention through deterrence,” which aims to deter future migration by making the journey north as difficult as possible, is inhumane.
As the agency predicted, and as Holmes notes, the increase in Border Patrol personnel and surveillance since 1994 has forced migration routes into the remote desert, increasing suffering. Read more…
Seth M. Holmes
University of California, Berkeley
The U.S. Senate’s recent agreement – to increase the size of the Border Patrol by 20,000 agents, add 700 miles of fence, and deploy $3.2 billion in military equipment – may lead to an increase in deaths in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands if current policies continue. Most media coverage, however, has failed to mention that Border Patrol policies and actions directly contribute to these fatalities.
One recent example is an article titled, “In 30 days, Border Patrol rescues 177 people from Arizona desert,” published last month in the Los Angeles Times. The article noted that although fewer people are crossing the border overall, death rates are at an all-time high in the southern Arizona desert. It blamed the spike in fatalities on the fact that migrants are increasingly crossing the border at its most treacherous and remote points. Yet the article failed to point out that Border Patrol policies have contributed to these deaths by deliberately re-routing migrants to cross in regions so perilous that Border Patrol officials themselves have referred to them as “the corridor of death” (Doty 2011). Read more…
- Yesterday the Associated Press made the bold and surprising announcement that the AP stylebook will no longer sanction the term “illegal immigrant.” According to the AP’s new standards, “‘illegal’ should describe only an action, such as living in or immigrating to a country illegally, and not a person.”
- This announcement garnered swift responses — for instance, from David Weigel at Slate.com, who reflected on the role of activists in shifting discourse (including, above all, Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas), and from New York Times Public Editor Margaret Sullivan – who had asserted as late as October that the term is “clear and accurate.” Sullivan stuck to her guns even after interviewing veteran NYT journalist Julia Preston, who expressed dissatisfaction with Sullivan’s position. Read more…
Seton Hall University School of Law
Any effort at comprehensive immigration reform must also address the health care needs of millions of immigrants with long-standing ties to this country. Absent such reform, immigrants needing ongoing medical care will remain vulnerable to the unethical practice of de facto deportation by hospitals, which is fueled by a lack of government reimbursement or oversight of international discharges.
In fact, a recent study from the Center for Social Justice and New York Lawyers for the Public Interest cites hundreds of cases of forced or coerced medical deportations. Acting alone or in concert with private transportation companies, as my colleagues and I report, hospitals are functioning as unauthorized immigration officers and engaging in de facto deportation of seriously ill or injured immigrant patients directly from their hospital beds to their native countries.
Flouting International Law: Violating the Human Rights of Asylum Seekers, Including Victims of Torture and Human Trafficking, in and en route to Israel – Laurie Lijnders
Physicians for Human Rights-Israel
My 15-year-old brother Habtom disappeared after he was released from an underground cell in the trafficking compound of Abu Khalid, where he was tortured for three months until we paid US$35,000 for his release, a young Eritrean woman told me during a visit to her home in a Tel Aviv suburb. Habtom, who fled forced military conscription and institutionalized slavery in Eritrea, was kidnapped in April 2012 from Shagarab refugee camp in Eastern Sudan by Rishyada tribesmen. Through a well-organized network of human traffickers operating in Eritrea, Ethiopia, Sudan, Egypt, and Israel, he was transferred to the northern Sinai desert, near the Egyptian border with Israel.
The Israeli Ministry of Interior estimates that 60,000 African asylum seekers, mainly from Eritrea and Sudan, have arrived in Israel in recent years via the country’s southern border. According to Israeli human rights organizations, arriving asylum seekers face serious rights violations on both sides of the border.
Western University School of Medicine and Dentistry
The doctors of Canada are angry. Last May in Toronto, a group of 90 physicians clad in white coats and scrubs occupied the office of a high-ranking member of the Canadian Parliament. Since then, physicians have consistently interrupted press conferences held by Conservative members of Parliament to protest cuts to the country’s Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP), which since 1957 has provided basic health care to refugees and asylum seekers.
Under the new policy, many refugees will receive care only in “urgent and necessary” cases or if their illness is deemed a threat to public health. Ironically, these cuts came into effect on the July 1st celebration of Canada Day, when this nation of immigrants and refugees celebrates its independence and its core values of generosity, openness, and multiculturalism.
“Doing No Harm” in an Age of Medical Repatriations: Challenges and Opportunities for Health Professionals – Juliana Morris
Harvard Medical School
How often do doctors cause harm to their patients when they discharge them from the hospital? For a sizeable group of immigrant patients who are “discharged” to their countries of origin each year, the answer may be: more often than not. The story of Quelino Ojeda Jimenez, an immigrant from Oaxaca, Mexico, who became quadriplegic after a fall at his roofing job in Chicago, Illinois, is case in point.
A Mile in Another’s Shoes on the U.S.-Mexico Border: “Being There” as a Form of Solidarity – Rachel Stonecipher
As I walk through the Sonoran desert, my eyes move ahead to the next obstacle: another cluster of spiny branches eclipsing the way forward. The path ahead looks impassable, but I assume the people who left their discarded belongings strewn along the wash’s rocky bottom have pressed on. Maybe there are migrants here at this moment, too frightened to answer our calls in timidly pronounced Spanish: “Hola, somos amigos! Tenemos agua, comida, y ayuda médica! No tengan miedo!” We’ve been walking for two hours, hacking through less forgiving plants and climbing up and down steep rock formations, to keep moving. Two hours into a four-hour loop, there’s no sense in turning around.
I am beginning to understand how people can die wandering around in circles. More than once, I panic that I am not holding our shared GPS device. When I am leading, I walk as briskly as I can following the dry, rocky creek beds, the only “paths” we can see, checking the GPS every few seconds. With cell phone signals out of the question, I imagine the fear of standing here with no compass but the sun.
Conceptions of Reciprocity: The Navarro Transplant Case, Organ Allocation and Undocumented Immigrants – Emily Avera
Organ donors give the gift of life, but the sheer volume of patients hoping for transplants far outstrips donor generosity. How should we make decisions to ensure the equitable distribution of a limited supply of organs? In a system that depends on the goodwill of donors and public trust, this question becomes further complicated when undocumented immigrants seek transplants – especially in the United States, where undocumented immigrants consent to donate organs more often than they receive them. In light of this fact, should citizenship be a substantial consideration? Or should allocation decisions be made according to a claim of reciprocity – i.e., that individuals or groups who are willing to donate are more entitled to receive organs than others?
Hearty congratulations to AccessDenied contributor Rachel Stonecipher, whose recent piece “Shattered by Security: The Impact of Secure Communities on Families” has been awarded second prize in the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center’s 2012 Student Prize Competition For Excellence in Writing to Advance Social Justice.
The prize, named for the renowned author of the monumental anti-slavery novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin, “recognizes outstanding writing by U.S. high school and college students that motivates positive action for social justice.”
Stonecipher is a senior double-major in Anthropology and Film & Media Arts at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. After college she plans to pursue a Ph.D. in anthropology with a focus on medical anthropology, im/migration and health, the anthropology of experience, and public anthropology. She is currently engaged in the second phase of a two-year research project on the practice and experience of migrant advocacy work on the U.S.-Mexico border, supported by the Engaged Learning program at SMU.
“Shattered by Security” is Stonecipher’s second contribution to AccessDenied. An earlier co-authored piece, “Call It a Crisis: Confronting Public Health Risks on the U.S.-Mexico Border,” was published last August. Her third contribution, a reflection on her participant observation with the NGO No More Borders, which provides water and emergency medical assistance to migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, will be published shortly.