via Between Two Lives – Features – Fall 2014 – Johns Hopkins Public Health Magazine.

Does fleeing family violence and the nation with the world’s highest murder rate qualify Wilter as a refugee?

Though it’s been bobbing in and out of the news cycle, there is still a Central American migrant crisis. I got into the weeds on immigration policy, then deleted it all because jeez it may be the one thing more complicated than health policy. For reference: UNHCR definition of refugee, US Citizen and Immigration Services definition of refugee.

But this current event is germane to public health. By not having a comprehensive policy in place we are unable to mobilize resources to address the health and safety needs of a large group of immigrants, mostly children. The humane thing to do would be to accept and give the best care we can possible to these refugees. At bare minimum, to protect our native population we should ensure screening for infectious diseases (TB, measles, mumps, rubella, Hep A-C, pertussis), treatment, and vaccinations.

If you have the time and the inclination to have your heart broken, watch the film Sin Nombre. It was done more than five years ago and is of course fiction, but by all accounts captures the migrant journey well. What keeps me up at night is thinking of what home must be like if this voyage is the better option.

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