Shelter Sickness: Migrants See Health Problems Linger and Worsen While Waiting at the Border

by | Aug 17, 2022 | Health

CIUDAD JUÁREZ, Mexico — Two days after arriving at a temporary migrant shelter at the border with the U.S. in June, Rosa Viridiana Ceron Alpizar’s 9-year-old daughter and 1-year-old son fell ill. Most of the kids in the converted gym had stomach issues after being served a meal of sausage and beans, she recalled.

Alpizar’s daughter quickly got better, but her son didn’t. José had a fever and diarrhea and was throwing up. When the shelter nurses couldn’t help, Alpizar sought out a private doctor, who prescribed antibiotics.

In mid-June, Alpizar, her partner, kids, and brother moved to Leona Vicario, a former factory that the Mexican government had converted to house migrants waiting to cross into the U.S. Weeks later, though, a doctor said her son still hadn’t improved. “He showed me the chart again and told me it was still the same,” Alpizar said in Spanish through an interpreter while at a shopping complex near the shelter. “He is still malnourished.”

Three years ago, Mexico had few shelters for migrants making their way to the U.S. People seeking asylum, like Alpizar and her family, presented themselves to U.S. authorities and were usually either detained in American facilities or …

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