The stress and conditions at immigrant detention facilities in El Paso have led to at least two doctors simply walking out on the job, according to a Border Patrol union executive, leaving agents wondering how to respond.
The Washington Examiner reported that the two incidents have occurred since May, putting agents at those facilities in a difficult position when so many detainees need medical care.
“The doctor just left. Got up and left. He was just like, ‘This is too much. This is too much. I can’t handle this,'” said Wesley Farris, second vice president of the National Border Patrol Council’s El Paso chapter. “Was probably like, ‘I’m a doctor. I don’t need to be in here.’ When you see that, you’re like, ‘This is bad. It must be bad.'”
A Border Patrol official said the doctors that walked off were contractors, not Coast Guard or Border Patrol personnel. The average detention facility has one doctor and two or three nurses the National Border Patrol Council said.
Farris accused Border Patrol management of not doing enough to manage the healthcare situation in the facilities, where things like flu and lice can spread quickly among detainees. He suggested that the Center for Disease Control needed to be more involved.
“If they can go and set up multimillion-dollar operations in Africa, why are they just kind of like poking us down here?” Farris said to the Washington Examiner. “We are not equipped at all and I would argue that, you could see from the doctor walking out, the contractors are not really equipped to deal with this.”
Although the number of illegal border crossings appears to be decreasing, facilities are still dealing with overcrowding as tens of thousands of immigrants from Mexico and Central America seek asylum.