October 7, 2022

A Southern California public radio investigation found that CBP and Border Patrol in San Diego are releasing injured migrants from custody before they receive necessary treatment, in order to avoid “skyrocketing medical costs” amid a big increase in border wall-related injuries.

Mexico’s consul in San Diego said that “during the first 12 days of August, eight Mexican nationals died trying to cross the border in an undocumented way.” A January 27, 2023 document from the consulate recorded 23 deaths and dozens of injuries, listed as “wall-related,” of Mexican migrants in the San Diego area. (Original link)

With CBP paying far fewer of injured migrants’ medical bills, California’s state government—which changed its law in 2021 to expand the state’s health-care program to cover undocumented migrants’ medical costs—is now bearing most of the cost. The investigation reports:

In 2019, CBP paid the medical expenses of roughly 75% of the patients their agents brought into UC San Diego. That percentage increased to 80% in 2020 but then dropped to 50% in 2021. So far this year, the CBP payment rate at the hospital is down to 15%, although that percentage could go up as payments are processed.

It adds, citing the hospital’s head of trauma, that “the UC San Diego Medical Center has received so many border fall patients this year that the hospital had to dedicate an entire ward just for them.”

— Solis, Gustavo. “Border Patrol Avoiding Medical Costs by Releasing Injured Migrants, Records Show.” KPBS Public Media, October 7, 2022. <https://www.kpbs.org/news/border-immigration/2022/10/07/border-patrol-avoiding-medical-costs-by-releasing-injured-migrants-records-show>.

— “Mexican Nationals Injured or Dead While Crossing the Border in the San Diego-Tijuana Region during Fiscal Years 2020-2022.” Consulate of Mexico in San Diego, January 2023. <https://consulmex.sre.gob.mx/sandiego/index.php/boletines/856-increasing-number-of-mexican-nationals-injured-or-dead-in-their-attempt-to-cross-the-border>.

Sector(s): San Diego, San Diego Field Office

Agency(ies): Border Patrol, Office of Field Operations

Event Type(s): Denial of Medical Care

Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: