Group gives healthcare to migrants on way to US

A humanitarian organization led by U.S. military veterans has treated thousands of migrants over the past year at two clinics in a Mexican town across the border from Texas. (Dec. 21)

Video Transcript

JOHN MONE: Mileydis Tamayo has a biweekly ritual with Maria de Jesus Ruiz Carrasco. The nurse performs wound care and checks progress on the 31-year-old Cuban refugee's healing bones.

MARIA CARRASCO: [SPEAKING SPANISH]

JOHN MONE: Criminals in Mexican border towns see asylum seekers like Carrasco as ripe targets for extortion. She told us while trying to escape a kidnapping in Matamoros, Mexico, she broke her leg in several places.

MARIA CARRASCO: [SPEAKING SPANISH]

JOHN MONE: Having no use for her, she says her captors then dumped her.

MARIA CARRASCO: [SPEAKING SPANISH]

JOHN MONE: Badly injured, and into the river.

MARIA CARRASCO: [SPEAKING SPANISH]

JOHN MONE: Two medical procedures later in the United States, US immigration officers returned her to Mexico, traumatized and on crutches, 14 pins and plates still in her leg.

- [SPEAKING SPANISH]

JOHN MONE: The physician spells it out plainly for Maria. She'll need physical therapy to fully get back to normal after she heals up. Everyone in the exam room from Dr. Diron, to Nurse Mileydis, to the patient and her husband, is a Cuban refugee, all stuck in Mexico.

MILEYDIS TAMAYO: [SPEAKING SPANISH]

JOHN MONE: Mileydis is one of the few people Maria says she trusts with her treatment.

MILEYDIS TAMAYO: [SPEAKING SPANISH]

JOHN MONE: The 51-year-old woman is a credentialed nurse in her home country, and helps care for some 400 people in a Matamoros refugee camp wedged against the river by the International bridge.

MILEYDIS TAMAYO: [SPEAKING SPANISH]

JOHN MONE: A non-profit called Global Response Management helps employ and supply the medical professionals who are also seeking asylum into the United States. For more than a year, it has cared for thousands of refugees forced to wait in Mexico while their cases are considered by US courts under a Trump administration policy, ironically named the Migrant Protection Protocol.

RYAN KERR: Preventing an illness from progressing to an actual emergency, that helps everyone.

JOHN MONE: The group, founded by former US military personnel, is building a system that will track migrant health needs while they are in transit, while also protecting their privacy.

RYAN KERR: People don't have health care means just at one specific stop point along the way. It's a lifelong thing.

JOHN MONE: Almost every morning, Mileydis and other volunteers set up a triage unit outside a clinic across from the camp. There's also a doctor's office inside the refugee camp. Lately, they've offered COVID-19 antibody tests. The group says its strategy has minimized coronavirus infections amongst the refugees.

Mileydis treats, helps diagnose, and most importantly, listens to patients.

MILEYDIS TAMAYO: [SPEAKING SPANISH]

JOHN MONE: Survival in this legal limbo means refugees must help one another.

MARIA CARRASCO: [SPEAKING SPANISH]

JOHN MONE: Keeping hope they'll make it across the river--

MARIA CARRASCO: [SPEAKING SPANISH]

JOHN MONE: And be welcomed into the United States. John Mone, Associated Press, Matamoras, Mexico.