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Physician who treated illegal children: 'They came based on a rumor'

Immigration activists march against all deportations on August 2, 2014
Immigration activists march against all deportations on August 2, 2014Photo by Lexey Swall/Getty Images

A physician who has experience working with children in Guatemala was called to assist in the screening of unaccompanied alien children and teenagers in Nogales, Ariz. who were apprehended at the southern border. In an exclusive interview with the Examiner, an internal medicine physician, who has asked to remain anonymous, shared his personal communications with the Central American teens, whose ages ranged from 12-17 years.

According to a flyer handed out to concerned citizens at the Holy Family Institute in Pennsylvania, where children will be housed, "[M]ost [unaccompanied alien children] are over 14 and approximately three quarters of them are boys."

The physician's insights were particularly helpful, as he speaks Spanish and was able to communicate without a translator during his two weeks at the six-acre facility. While the surge on America's southern border has become a politically charged issue that has less to do with illegal alien children and more to do with the federal government's handling of the situation, the doctor did not offer his opinion, just facts based on his personal experience.

The medical doctor told the Examiner that the teens he encountered were generally healthy, as they had travelled for "two to four weeks" to come to the border. He confirmed that they were brought by "coyotes," who were paid by the families of the teens from anywhere between $6-10,000. Families would find coyotes by "word of mouth," he confirmed, and would oftentimes receive the funds to pay the coyotes from relatives already in America. He told the Examiner that "every single" teen he spoke with referenced family members already living in America.

The physician mentioned that he did hear some stories of coyotes abandoning the teens or taking advantage of them by claiming they were kidnapped and making demands on their families for more money.

When asked if the teens were fearful to return home, he said that based on his observation, many of them were not fearful. In fact, he said, they felt like they were "on vacation." He explained that many of the teens had never experienced a ride on an airplane, for example, as many made the journey to Arizona after crossing the border in Texas. He said that they were fed, clothed, and had access to clean facilities. They were not running for their lives, the physician said, but came to America "based on a rumor" that once in America, children and teens would not be turned away. This "rumor," he stated, was confirmed in an editorial from January or February that he saw in Guatemala.

In June, the Guatemalan publication Prensa Libre reported (as translated),

"...the law prohibits the Department of Homeland Security to deport the children if they come from countries that do not border with that country, as in the case of Guatemala."

Would this physician return to help the teens again? "In a heartbeat," he said.