Abhorrent conditions in Central American countries have continued to force migrants north to Tijuana to escape trauma and persecution. Concurrently, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has enacted a limit to the number of asylum cases processed each day in Tijuana to around 10-50 and has applied “catch-and-release policy" that sends asylum seekers back down to Tijuana to await asylum after their initial hearing. As a result, health crises continue to propagate in already crowded shelters and camps with thousands of migrants seeking refuge.
In response to multiple communities escaping violence, poverty, and discrimination, the Refugee Health Alliance (RHA) was created to help mobilize Southern California providers and their networks down to the Tijuana/San Diego international border to aid in the refugee crisis.
It has since evolved into an extensive network of providers, volunteers, and students who travel to Tijuana everyday to provide medical care at several of the refugee shelters found throughout the city. Supported by crowdsource funding, RHA has enabled the purchase of medications and equipment to provide essential medical care to every individual in need.
Refugee Health Alliance had previously supported a clinic at an autonomous community space called Enclave Caracol where asylum seekers also could come to receive free meals and legal support. In September of 2019 the “Weekday Clinic” transitioned to Prevencasa, a well established harm reduction clinic in Zona Norte that has been working for years with vulnerable patient populations. This clinic is open from Monday to Friday from 9am to 2pm and is typically staffed by 2-5 volunteers. The clinic treats approximately 10-30 patients each day and has access to basic labs, imaging, and specialty referrals. If necessary, we also subsidize the hospitalization of critically ill migrants. Since our inception in November 2018, approximately 7,000 patient consultations have been completed and the clinic has become the largest charity healthcare provider to the migrants and the shelters in Tijuana, with the exception of the Mexican government.
Our focus is not exclusive to medical treatment. We also support provision of mental health services in the form of psychological consultations and group support to vulnerable subsets of the population including unaccompanied minors and LGBT members. Services also include recreational therapy sessions, which have included activities like art and yoga to promote psychological and physical well being. Lastly, we work with closely with lawyers to produce documentation for migrants in preparation for their asylum process.
Every Saturday, at overcrowded shelters throughout Tijuana, we support mobile clinics for those who are unable to travel to Prevencasa. Clinical teams of 15 -35 physicians, nurses, EMTs and other medical volunteers typically see between 80-160 patients every Saturday. Higher acuity are then referred to local hospitals or for follow up at the clinic in Prevencasa.
Because there remains a tremendous need, our work is only limited by resources and volunteers. We would like to kindly ask for your donations to continue this grassroots effort to provide medical aid and support to asylum seekers. Your donations will go towards items on our needs list. Direct donations for these goods are also welcome.https://docs.google.com/document/d/1U1BouD6cNzJcP6Rxk3OqbFdDmJdW_NMilmtdLDBPVRI/edit
If you would like to volunteer with us please fill out this form.https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1PI1Vt7j5ONCked9RgaJm5K62vt8Hwd4qkTybpHOfKYE/edit
For questions or requests please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Refugee Health Alliance
Photo credit: Pedro Pardo/AFP/Getty Images