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Freezing conditions at Jacumba border puts migrants at risk for hypothermia

Migrants at Jacumba border in freezing temperatures
Posted at 12:03 PM, Dec 01, 2023

JACUMBA, Calif. (KGTV) — Migrant rights groups are worried that cold weather could lead to health problems for people waiting to be processed by Border Patrol agents.

Advocates said they underestimated how bone-chilling cold the temperatures are this week in Jacumba. They also said they feel awful every time they go inside to warm up because it's a luxury the migrants do not have.

Theresa Cheng, a UCSF Faculty of Emergency Medicine member and San Diego Chapter board member, was in Jacumba this week.

"I've seen extremely pregnant people about to give birth. I've seen people trying to build a shelter or a fire out of nothing and accidentally cutting themselves," Cheng said. "I've seen a lot of colds, preexisting medical conditions, and a whole gamut of injuries."

Al Otro Lado, a humanitarian aid organization, said it has been providing as many supplies as possible at the border, from tarps to food, water and giving the migrants the medical attention they need.

"There were several hundred people camped out across three sites, including pregnant women, children, and disabled people," Erika Pinheiro​, ​executive director at Al Otro Lado said. "It was windy; I saw frost and ice on the ground. There's only makeshift tents with tarps, Border Patrol hasn't provided any shelter."

Pinheiro said there are not just migrants from Mexico, but China, Turkey, Brazil, Colombia, and half a dozen other countries as well.

"When I asked them how they were doing, they said horrible, humiliating," Pinheiro said. "The scariest part is not having information. Border patrol tells them they can be deported, so it's very frightening, especially for people with children."

ABC 10News reached out to San Diego Border Patrol to ask if there was a sense of urgency in processing migrants at the Jacumba border because of the freezing conditions and received the following statement:

Statement attributable to a CBP spokesperson:

DHS continues to enforce United States immigration laws, expanding lawful pathways while strengthening enforcement consequences for those who cross our border unlawfully. Individuals and families without a legal basis to remain in the U.S. are subject to removal pursuant to CBP’s longstanding Title 8 authorities and are subject to a minimum five-year bar on reapplying for admission and potential criminal prosecution if they subsequently re-enter without authorization.

CBP is leveraging all available resources and partnerships to efficiently vet and process migrants consistent with law. The agency continues to surge personnel, transportation, processing, and humanitarian resources to the most active and arduous areas throughout San Diego’s border region where migrants are callously placed by for-profit smuggling organizations, often without proper preparation.