Sick Migrant Children Are at the Whims of U.S. Border Guards

MATAMOROS, MEXICO – DECEMBER 09: A camp for asylum seekers stands next to the international bridge to the United States on December 09, 2019 in Matamoros, Mexico. More than 1,000 Central American and Mexican asylum seekers have been staying, many for months between immigration court hearings, in a squalid camp in Matamoros, across the border from Brownsville, Texas. Immigrant families seeking asylum are now required by the U.S. government to stay in Mexico as part of the Trump Administration’s “Remain in Mexico” process for people legally seeking political asylum in the United States. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

Until this week, a 7-year-old Honduran girl had been living at a makeshift refugee camp in Matamoros, Mexico, with an infected opening in her groin known as a fistula—an aperture through which excrement seeped from her colon to the surface of her skin. She was withdrawn, small for her age, and clinging to her mother, said Greg Shays, a volunteer pediatrician from California who evaluated her in the camp’s mobile medical clinic last week.

Her mother did her best to keep the fistula clean with baby wipes and donated diapers, but the girl’s health continued to deteriorate. In the squalid camp, potable water is in short supply and a handful of porta-potties serves up to 2,000 people. Asylum seekers wash clothes in a river teeming with E.coli.

Shays included his evaluation in a letter that lawyers presented to American border agents to urge them to admit the girl into the United States so she could get care. He worried she could soon become fatally septic. See Atlantic for the rest of the story. . . .