International News

Medical Clinic Launched in Mexico to Support Migrants Stuck at Border

A Venezuelan migrant in Mexico City holds his baby on Oct. 27 as he waits on the sidewalk with his family outside the Mexican Commission for Aid to Refugees. (Photo: Catholic News Service)

PROSPECT HEIGHTS — A faith-based organization launched a medical clinic across the U.S.-Mexico border in Ciudad Juárez over the weekend to provide medical support to migrants in need.

The Hope Border Institute in El Paso, Texas, launched Clinica Hope, a program that will provide volunteer doctors and medical professionals from El Paso, including practitioners in family medicine, pediatrics, emergency medicine, and psychiatry.

Dylan Corbett, the organization’s executive director, said in a statement that the program meets a critical need at a time when the nation continues to grapple with a migration surge.

“Clinica Hope will provide critical medical care to vulnerable people on the move in Ciudad Juárez as they respond to the recent influx,” Corbett said in a statement. “This new program represents our commitment to address the recent increase in arrivals to the border, including Venezuelans, and to show that as one binational community, we can respond with humanity and compassion.”

The Biden administration has been under fire for its recent expansion of Title 42 to include Venezuelans.

The border policy implemented by the Trump administration allows the immediate expulsion of migrants on public health grounds. It was enacted as a public health measure to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

Supporters of the policy cite the record-setting number of migrants who have arrived at the U.S.-Mexico border over the past year-plus. Advocates, though, argue Title 42 and other deterrent policies are largely ineffective, in part because they don’t address the reasons people flee their home countries to begin with, and lead to people attempting to cross the border multiple times.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents have encountered more than 150,000 undocumented immigrants at the southern border each month dating back to March 2021, according to the agency’s data. No month reached that number from Oct. 2019-Feb. 2021, the data shows.

The agency encountered 227,547 undocumented immigrants at the southern border in September. The month of September closes Fiscal Year 2022, which ran from Oct. 2021-Sept. 2022. During that span, border agents encountered a record 2,378,944 undocumented immigrants, according to the data.

Clinica Hope will also serve as a training space for medical professionals from El Paso and Ciudad Juárez to learn how to perform forensic evaluations of asylum seekers, which are used to identify instances of physical and psychological torture or abuse, and support asylum seekers’ accounts in the U.S. immigration courts.

The program was launched in partnership with the Mexican Federal Government and Centro Integrador Para el Migrante “Leona Vicario,” its migrant shelter in Ciudad Juárez.

Hope Border Institute and Bishop Mark Seitz of El Paso, who is the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ incoming migration chair, have long been on the front lines of aiding migrants that arrive in El Paso or Ciudad Juárez however they can.

This past weekend, they were in Ciudad Juarez visiting with 2,000 migrants the Biden administration recently expelled, who are now living in a tent city on the banks of the Rio Grande, in what Corbett described as a “stone’s throw away from El Paso.”

In a social media post announcing the new program, Corbett posted a picture of the tent city, saying, “it is not enough. The administration’s discriminatory use of Title 42 against Venezuelans is morally unacceptable.

“We need a fundamentally new approach to migration and borders,” Corbett wrote. “Title 42, walls, mass expulsions, and exposing people to the elements can’t be the solution.”

Corbett also quoted Bishop Seitz as saying that his visit to the tent city was “a conscious call to political leaders in the U.S. to respect asylum law and live up to our ideals.”