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The unforeseen consequences of a higher border wall

UC San Diego Health reports an increase of falling injuries at the border.

SAN DIEGO — When former President Donald Trump vowed to secure the southern border with hundreds of miles of new wall, there were several prototypes to choose from. Eventually, a design was picked, 18-foot-high or 30-foot-high sections made of concrete and rebar steel bollards.

But the wall that former President Trump said would be unclimbable still seems to have flaws. Social media footage shows young men with makeshift ladders climbing to the top of the wall and then sliding down the bollards on the other side.  

But not every brazen border crosser gets away so cleanly and it can sometimes end with tragedy. 

"Last month, we had a 27-year-old patient who died," said Dr. Ghazala Sharieff, the Chief Medical Officer of Acute Care at Scripps Health. "Incidentally, that patient was COVID positive but didn't die from COVID. It was the head injury," said Sharieff.   

Dr. Sharieff said she’s seen an alarming amount of new cases from falling injuries at the border wall. 

"Prior to 2019 we had maybe five border falls a month, it was a really low number," said Sharieff. "In 2020, we had 41 border injuries. This last year alone and 2021, we went up to 139."

A study released by UC San Diego Health Friday broke down the exact numbers showing 67 trauma-related incidents due to falls at the border wall from 2016 to 2017.

That number climbed to 375 between 2019 and 2021.

Dr. Sharieff said the improved height of the border wall is directly correlated to the injuries that she’s seeing in the hospital. Now the increased number of those injuries coming through the emergency room is putting strain on an already depleted staff.

"These are not just one broken bone. These are multiple fractures, head injuries, spinal cord injuries. So they're very traumatic injuries," Sharieff said. "There's an immense toll that it takes on our surgeons and the patients."

People crossing the border illegally are desperate enough to risk life and limb to get into the United States. Consequences from the accidents not only affect the migrant but put excess strain on the United States health care system. 

WATCH RELATED: Biden ends border emergency that funded wall construction in San Diego (Feb. 2021).


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