Posted on January 28, 2019

Border Patrol Struggles with Flood of Sick Migrants

Anna Giaritelli, Washington Examiner, January 27, 2019

Border Patrol agents have spent nearly 20,000 hours since October driving asylum seekers to and from hospitals for medical evaluations, according to newly released Department of Homeland Security data.

Since Oct. 1, 2018, the Border Patrol, which works in rural areas between border crossings, has “seen an increase in the numbers of apprehended individuals requiring medical assistance.”

A total of 2,224 migrants, primarily from Guatemala and Honduras, have been hospitalized due to health issues that could not be treated on site in the last month alone, according to a CBP statement.

The department said the spike in illnesses among migrants is forcing federal law enforcement to spend less time focused on serious threats because they are facilitating hospital and urgent care trips. It’s also affecting communities that are trying to help with medical emergencies but are severely short-staffed.


Two county officials who spoke with the Washington Examiner during a recent meeting said they have seen massive groups of migrants, from 100 to 300 people each, getting dropped off in the county. The high number of arrivals wasn’t a problem at first, but by November and early December, it became a problem when many people began showing up sick and in need of professional care.

“For a while there, we were being called every day. They [Border Patrol] wanted us to do their screening because they had a lack of medical personnel,” said Hidalgo County Emergency Medical Services Director David Whipple.


County officials say scabies outbreaks have plagued that facility, though Border Patrol public affairs officials and Customs and Border Protection did not respond to requests for a tour and comment of either facility.

“They’ve had big issues with scabies,” said Whipple, who did not disclose the number of cases at the Lordsburg Station. “That’s an ongoing thing.”


Another issue is the Border Patrol’s decision to bring migrants into local urgent care facilities, including Hidalgo County Medical Services.

“The biggest concern that I’ve heard about is not that they’re disease-ridden, but the fact that they don’t vaccinate. I mean, it would become a county epidemic,” Green said. {snip}