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.
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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