Border Wall's Height Leads to 'Unnecessary' Horrors

Neurological surgery resident warns of rise in traumatic injuries, economic costs
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 18, 2023 1:32 PM CDT
Border Wall's Height Is Causing Traumatic Injuries
Former President Donald Trump speaks during a visit to an unfinished section of border wall with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, in Pharr, Texas, on June 30, 2021.   (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)

Changes made to the US-Mexico border wall under the Trump administration aren't stopping people from scaling it, but they're resulting in "unnecessary human suffering" that's not only horrifying but also putting more burden on hospitals and government coffers, according to Alexander Tenorio, a neurological surgery resident in San Diego. Writing at the Los Angeles Times, Tenorio describes "the horrors" of seeing numerous "young individuals with life-changing severe injuries that they sustained falling from the wall," sections of which were raised in height from 8 to 10 feet to 30 feet under a 2017 executive order. He describes "a record number of traumatic spinal injuries sustained in border falls" in San Diego since a section of border wall was raised in 2019.

The Level 1 Trauma Center at UC San Diego Health saw a fivefold increase in admissions from border wall falls between 2019 and 2021 compared with those from 2016 to 2018, according to a 2022 study. Admissions went from 67 to 375, while deaths went from zero to 16, per the Washington Post. "We are seeing not only more but also new types of neurological injuries, including traumatic brain and cerebrovascular injuries that will leave people unable to work and care for their families," writes Tenorio. He adds "the cost of caring for each patient injured while crossing the border has increased by 70% since 2020," further straining hospitals still reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic. Fall patients' hospital stays are longer than they used to be, and more require surgery and ICU care, per Medpage Today.

It's become "an international public health crisis" that Tenorio fears will only "worsen in the coming months" following the Biden administration's decision to continue with plans to build more sections of border wall in Arizona and Texas. "I understand the need for border policies, but increasing the height of a physical barrier is not the answer: We know now that this leads desperate people to risk spinal cord and brain injuries," Tenorio writes. Though some will say no one should try to cross the wall illegally, these are "desperate people" fleeing "unlivable political, economic, and violent conditions, similar to what my parents endured," writes Tenorio, the son of Mexican immigrants who fled "violent threats in their hometown" in the 1980s. Indeed, they are "doing what any of us would do if the situation were reversed." (More border wall stories.)

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