Migrants falling from ‘impossible to climb’ southern border wall fill hospitals

EL PASO, Texas — It wasn’t until Alma Zavala was atop the 30-foot steel border fence that she realized how far it had to fall.

“I taped the wall,” she said. “My hands were bleeding from the rough edges. The guide was shouting, ‘Let go! Let go!’ I fell and felt my bones break.”

Zavala, a young mother from Mexico, lay on a bed at an El Paso shelter Wednesday, in a room with four other migrants who survived terrifying falls from a nearly three-story-high fence. Among them, they had undergone eight surgeries in the past month. Zavala’s right leg was secured with an external fixator that resembled scaffolding.

New public health data confirms what trauma surgeons at border county hospitals have suspected since the U.S. government began raising the height of the Southwest border wall to slow migration: The 30-foot fence causes more injuries and is far more deadly than any previous barrier.

Doctors say the falls and deaths pose a public health crisis for border communities at a time when the Biden administration and the state of Texas are investing in new border fencing amid record migrant apprehensions.

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