He’s not alone. “Due to the violence that these people have experienced in the country of origin and during their transit through Mexico, once they reach these places [near the destination] where conditions are still not suitable for them, we find symptoms such as anxiety, acute stress, and some cases of post-traumatic stress [disorder],” says Alberto Macín, a psychologist working with Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF).
MSF has been providing care along Mexico’s migration route for more than six years and has recently scaled up medical activities along the northern border in response to a humanitarian crisis made worse by official US policy. In January 2019 the US Department of Homeland Security announced a new plan called the Migrant Protection Protocols that would require people seeking entry to the US including asylum seekers—to remain in Mexico for the duration of their immigration proceedings. The new policy is facing legal challenges, as both US and international laws protect the right to seek asylum and prohibit returning people to dangerous situations.
Thousands of migrants and refugees like Mario who fled violence in Central America are now stuck in limbo in northern Mexico, trapped in under-resourced and overcrowded shelters. MSF dispatched an emergency team to Tijuana in December to provide medical and mental health care to the influx of migrants and refugees who had arrived in caravans. (Increasing numbers of people have recently chosen to travel in large groups to better protect themselves against the dangers of the migration route.) We also care for people on the move in Nuevo Laredo, Matamoros, and Reynosa.