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MCN Statement on Recent Migrant Deaths

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Rio Grande River


We at Migrant Clinicians Network were saddened and horrified to learn of the deaths that occurred while people attempted to migrate to the US in the last two weeks. Last week, four people died after being swept into deceptively rapid water in the Rio Grande as they attempted to cross into the US, bringing the Rio Grande death toll up to 10 for 2017, compared to just six for all of 2016. These deaths came just days after the gruesome discovery of nine dead bodies in the back of a big rig in a Walmart parking lot in San Antonio. Thirty other people found in the tractor trailer were hospitalized. Since the discovery, a tenth person has died. It is estimated that the tractor trailer may have held around 100 people over the course of its journey. The driver has been arrested for human trafficking.

As clinicians, we recognize that people in the midst of a migration -- whether for a new job, for a better life, or to escape violence, war, or oppression -- are extremely vulnerable. Incidents of trafficking and other forms of manipulation and exploitation are unfortunately commonplace. Consequently, migration can lead to mental health concerns including trauma, PTSD, depression, stress, and anxiety.

All people have a right to life, a right to fair treatment, and a right to access health care when needed. As we grieve the deaths of the dozens of people who have died this week while migrating, we call on our fellow clinicians, policy makers, and neighbors to assure that all people, regardless of nationality, immigration status, or economic class, are given the right to a healthy life.

Please see the following resources for more information on screening and assisting new immigrants:

MCN’s archived webinar, “Trauma-Informed Care: Behavioral Health in the Primary Care Setting”:

MCN’s Children’s Health page talks more about pre-, peri-, and post-migration trauma among children:

MCN’s Health Network helps patients in the midst of migration continue treatment for their health conditions, regardless of where they are:

The Office of Refugee Resettlement’s resources:

Rescue & Restore’s Look Beneath the Surface:

The National Human Trafficking Resource Center covers both sex and labor trafficking, and promotes their national hotline, 888-373-7888.


Migrant Clinicians Network is a national nonpartisan nonprofit organization focused on health justice for the mobile poor.


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