Higher border wall is causing more injuries to migrants

Hospitals, Border Patrol, and volunteer agencies along the US/Mexico border all report an increase in migrant injuries as a result of the additional 12 feet added to the border wall.
three people in hood sweaters stand along the border wall, one stands on the ground peering through the slats, the other holds the base of the ladder, and the third is standing on the fifth rung of the ladder.
Fence climbers prepare to scale the wall along the US/Mexico border.

As migrants from many parts of the world make their way north in Mexico towards the United States and what they hope will be a more secure life, they still must face many dangers – from organized crime to extreme temperatures to Border Patrol to militias.  The actual border wall also presents another potential danger of injury or death; since the building of the 30-foot high wall in 2019 and 2020, that risk has increased. People have suffered bad ankle or leg breaks, hip fractures and spinal and head injuries, some of which are fatal. 

In May, UC San Diego Health hospital completed a study of deaths and hospital admissions in the San Diego area caused by accidents on the border wall:

  • 18-ft wall from 2016 – 2018 no deaths reported and 67 hospital admissions
  • 30-ft wall from 2019 – 2021 16 deaths reported and 375 hospital admissions

U.S. Border Patrol in Texas reports these statistics:

  • 2020 – 10 deaths and 12 rescues
  • 2021 – 39 deaths and 688 rescues
  • 2022 (so far) – 16 deaths and 294 rescues

The El Paso Times found that in 2021 more than 300 migrants suffered injuries from falling off the border wall in west Texas and New Mexico.

Volunteers at the Migrant Resource Centre (CRM) in Agua Prieta, Sonora, Mexico, regularly report on the number of migrants returning to Mexico who have been injured on the wall.  They used to observe migrants returning with one broken leg or arm, but now with the 30-foot wall, it’s often two broken limbs. The center is equipped to treat minor injuries; but for more severe cases, volunteers will call the Red Cross to transport migrants to the hospital.  

a person wearing a black hoodie and jeans sits on a chair while two Red Cross medics attend to their injured foot.
Red Cross medics attend to migrant injuries at the Migrant Resource Centre in Agua Prieta, Sonora, Mexico.

Recently, the most tragic incident on the border wall near Douglas, Arizona/Agua Prieta, Sonora occurred on 11 April 2022, when 31-year-old Griselda Anais Verdusco from the Mexican state of Sinaloa was found hanging upside down on the border wall a few miles west of town. She was advised by her Mexican criminal guides to use a ladder to climb the wall on the Mexican side and wearing some type of harness to help her get safely to the ground on the US side.  “It appears that she got her foot or leg stuck on the top of the fence, which caused her to become inverted, so she was hanging upside down and there was no one else on scene when agents arrived,” reported Carol Capas of the Cochise County Sheriff’s Office.  The Pima County Medical Examiner’s Office determined that she died of traumatic asphyxia from hanging upside down.  

  • We pray for the family of Griselda as they mourn her death.
  • We mourn the deaths of those who have died as a result of the border wall.
  • We grieve the building of the 30-foot wall.
  • We give thanks for the medical workers, volunteers, and Border Patrol who rescue and treat those who are injured.
  • We pray that people will be able to migrate in ways that do not endanger their lives.

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