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World News | Immigrant shelters try to help traumatized attack survivors

World News | Immigrant shelters try to help traumatized attack survivors

Ciudad Juarez, Dec. 31 (AP) Dr. Brian Elmore has treated the respiratory tract of about 100 migrants since he started volunteering weekend shifts two months ago at a clinic at one of the border city’s largest shelters. Viruses and some more serious emergencies.

But what worries him most is something he has yet to address — the mounting trauma many migrants endure after making the long journey north that often involves witnessing murder and being kidnapped and sexually assaulted.

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“Most of our patients have symptoms of PTSD—I want to screen every patient,” says Elmore, an emergency medicine physician at Clinica Hope. The Catholic nonprofit Hope Frontier Institute opened the campus this fall with the help of Bishop Mark Seitz of El Paso, Texas, which borders Juárez.

Doctors, social workers, shelter directors, clergy and law enforcement officials say a growing number of migrants who are subjected to violence that amounts to torture arrive at the U.S.-Mexico border in desperate need of trauma-informed medical and mental health treatment.

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But resources for such specialized care are so scarce that shelter networks are overwhelmed with new arrivals and immigrants trapped for months by U.S. asylum policies, so they can only handle the most severe cases.

“It’s like a 13-year-old pregnant girl who escaped a gang rape and thus needs help with child care and secondary school,” said Zury Reyes Borrero, a case manager at the Arizona Torture Victims Center, who was born.

“We leave people at their most vulnerable. Some don’t even realize they’re in America”

Over the past six months, Reyes Borrero and a colleague have helped about 100 migrants at Catholic Community Services’ Casa Alitas shelter in Tucson, Ariz., which was receiving about 700 immigrants a day in December from the U.S. Authorities release migrants from countries as diverse as Congo and Mexico.

Each visit can take hours, Reyes Borrero said, as caseworkers try to build rapport with the migrants, with an emphasis on empowering them.

“It’s not a community where we’re talking about chatter…they probably don’t have any safe memories,” said Sarah Howell, who runs a clinical clinic and a nonprofit in Houston that treats immigrant survivors of torture. organize.

When she visits patients in new Texas communities, they often introduce relatives or neighbors who also need help coping with severe trauma but lack the stability and security needed to heal.

“The estimated level of need is at least five times higher than what we support,” said Leonce Byimana, director of U.S. clinical services for the Center for Torture Victims, which has facilities in Arizona, Georgia and Minnesota. There are clinics.

Most migrants are traumatized by what they leave behind and what they encounter along the way, Byimana said. He added that they needed “emergency mental health” as well as long-term care, which was harder to arrange once they dispersed from shelters across the border to communities across the country.

Dylan Corbett, executive director of the Hope Border Institute, said that if left untreated, this trauma can escalate to the point where psychiatric care is required rather than therapy and self-help.

Joan Rosenhauer, director of Jesuit Refugee Services/USA, the U.S. arm of the global Catholic refugee agency, said it plans to increase mental health resources in El Paso, border crossings in the region in the coming weeks. point surge.

Along the border, the most alarming trend is the increase in the number of pregnant women and girls, some younger than 15, who are victims of assault and domestic violence.

Volunteers and advocates encounter so many survivors that they have to focus scarce legal, medical and shelter resources on helping them, leaving hundreds of other victims of political violence and organized crime to fend for themselves off.

In a journey fraught with peril at every step, service providers and migrants say the most dangerous place is “la selva” – the jungle of the Darien Canyon between Colombia and Panama, where a growing number of Venezuelans, Cubans Cross here with Haitians who first emigrated to South America and are now seeking a safer life in the United States.

Natural disasters like deadly snakes and rivers only increase the risk of bandits looting migrant areas. Loreta Salgado flew from Cuba for several months while crossing the Darien.

“We saw a lot of people die, we saw people get robbed, people got raped. We saw that,” she repeated, hoarsely, at an immigrant shelter in El Paso a few days before Christmas.

Howell said some women simply gasped when asked about “la selva” — only to reveal later that they themselves were raped or had sex with people forced to watch while they were speeding to save their daughters. Assaulted partners endure strained relationships.

“I don’t think it was the first rape that most of the women I talked to experienced it. But it was the most violent and the most shameful because it was in front of other people,” Howell added.

In many cases, forensic evaluations at border clinics documenting mental and physical abuse are also critical in migrants’ asylum cases because there is often no other evidence available for court proceedings, Byimana said. Asylum is granted to those who are unable to return to their country for fear of persecution for specific reasons, including sometimes very serious systemic violence against women.

But it takes years for U.S. immigration courts to decide on asylum cases, with a backlog of more than 1.5 million cases, according to the Syracuse University Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse. Pandemic-era restrictions remain in place, allowing authorities to reject or deport most asylum seekers.

Advocates say the long wait for a solution, on top of the lengthy journey across multiple countries, can exacerbate the trauma experienced by migrants.

“The tension and fear on the face was unlike anything I’d seen before,” said Howell, who has studied trauma and forced displacement for 15 years. “They don’t know how to stop running.” (AP)

(This is an unedited and auto-generated story from a Syndicated News feed, the content body may not have been modified or edited by LatestLY staff)

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