This past summer, I volunteered in Tijuana, Mexico at a clinic serving patients in the Migrant Protection Protocol program, or MPP. Also known as “Remain in Mexico,” MPP sends migrants who appear at official places of entry along the U.S. border seeking asylum, back to Mexico to await future immigration hearing dates.
Why did this picture seize our attention? Is it because Valeria’s’ tiny body is tucked inside her father’s shirt and we can vividly see her clinging to him as they drowned? Or is it because we know if they had made it across safely, the two would have been separated anyway? Or is it because every parent understands the desperation it took for a father to swim across a swirling river while carrying his 2-year-old daughter on his back?
As a pediatrician, watching enforcement of “zero tolerance” on children at our southern border has broken my heart. Every child needs safety and a sense of belonging. It defines who they are and shapes their perception of the world. For a young child, the loss of a parent is so devastating there can be no repair, only salvage of the wreckage.
I Wish My Doctor Knew… I am scared of being deported. A few weeks ago, a child said they were worried about who was going to be elected, because they were afraid of being sent back to El Salvador. I asked if he was born in the US and he replied he was but his parents were not and he was afraid they would be sent away. He is just seven years old. I honestly did not know what to say.