The United States Border Patrol is struggling to keep up with the number of sick migrants that require hospital attention when they arrive at the border.
According to a report Customs and Border Protection (CBP), agents sent 2,224 migrants to U.S. hospitals in order to give them treatment for illnesses beyond the capabilities of the medical team at the border facilities. That means that 5.3 percent of the migrants who arrived at the border required hospitalization since December 22.
As IJR previously reported, migrants have been treated for illnesses including flu, parasites, tuberculosis, and pneumonia.
The CBP report also noted that the sick migrants don’t just take up medical resources. They also require a lot of time and supervision from other Border Patrol agents. According to the report, agents spent 19,299 hours driving sick migrants to and from hospitals in the last month.
“This means there are less agents performing border security duties,” CBP stated.
When the CBP’s staffing resources are consumed by migrants who need immediate medical attention, the processing time for health migrants increases due to depleted staffing resources.
According to a report by the Washington Examiner, the burden of sick migrants is also being felt by the small communities that are situated on the border. They detailed the struggles of one small hospital in Hidalgo County, New Mexico.
The community they serve has a population of just 5,000 and their entire annual operating budget is just $1.7 million because of the small tax base. The influx of sick migrants left the hospital with resources stretched thin.
“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,” Hidalgo County Emergency Medical Services Director David Whipple told the Washington Examiner.
Tisha Green, the county manager, told the Examiner, “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.”
It isn’t clear when CBP and the communities on the border will see a break in the heavy flow of migrants. Although the shutdown ended, the future funding of CBP is still in limbo.