May 30 • 28M

A Growing Public Health Crisis: A Conversation with Dr. Alexander Tenorio on Border Wall Injuries

“I feel it’s my duty to notify the world of the atrocities that are occurring because of the border wall extension, and the increase in the border wall height," he says.

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Melissa del Bosque
The Border Chronicle podcast is hosted by Melissa del Bosque and Todd Miller. Based in Tucson, Arizona, longtime journalists Melissa and Todd speak with fascinating fronterizos, community leaders, activists, artists and more at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Episode details
El Paso firefighters recover the body of a man who died after falling into an irrigation canal while trying to scale the border wall, on November 24, 2021. (Photo credit: David Peinado via Getty)


In 2020, Dr. Alexander Tenorio, a neurosurgeon based in San Diego, noticed a sharp increase in people suffering traumatic brain and spinal injuries. These cases, he soon discovered, were the result of people falling from the newly expanded and elevated border wall.

Under the Trump administration, the border wall’s height was raised to 30 feet, which has challenged border hospitals and had deadly consequences for migrants. Falls from the border wall have left many paralyzed or unable to function independently. Most of the injured are in their 20s and 30s and are their families’ breadwinners, so the debilitating injuries have a devastating ripple effect throughout communities.

Dr. Alexander Tenorio

In April, Tenorio wrote an opinion editorial for the Los Angeles Times about the record number of traumatic injuries he’s treated due to falls from the border wall. In the editorial, he cited a recent report by the Mexican government that 646 Mexican nationals were hurt or killed crossing the border from 2020 to 2022, and that the main cause of injury “was wall-related.”

Tenorio and other physicians and researchers are studying the phenomenon. To date, they’ve published two studies looking at patients on the California-Mexico border, and Tenorio says they plan to extend their research to include the rest of the nearly 2,000-mile-long border, as well as cases from Mexico.

“As a neurosurgeon,” Tenorio says, “I feel it’s my duty to notify the world of the atrocities that are occurring because of the border wall extension. The increase in the border wall height has led to a humanitarian crisis and international public health crisis.”

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