NOGALES, Sonora — The 31-year-old Oaxaca native was dangling by one arm, a drop of more than two stories below her.
Slowly, her hand slipped and her legs slammed the desert floor with a bone-rattling thud.
She couldn’t move. All she could think about was the 14-year-old daughter she had left behind — whom she might never see again.
Reports of migrants getting hurt when trying to jump the fence or trekking through the treacherous desert are not new, but immigrant shelters and Mexican officials are seeing a spike of migrants — especially women — getting hurt trying to jump the border fence. They think, incorrectly, that the jump will be easier than making the treacherous trek through the 100-degree desert.
“It’s the same crossing through the wall or through the desert,” said Gilda Felix, director of the Juan Bosco immigrant shelter in Nogales, where many of the injured are brought before going home. “Both are difficult and dangerous.”
This year the Mexican Consulate in Tucson has seen more people needing medical attention after falling from the border fence than from crossing the desert, said Ricardo Pineda, the consul general. So far this year, there have been 37 cases of injured Mexican migrants. In all of 2014 Pineda’s office reported 56 cases. That includes all injuries, not just falling from the fence.
The Juan Bosco shelter is averaging about 20 to 30 injured men and woman a month, most of them with foot and spine fractures. One recent day Felix had three women with foot injuries.
“There always have been people crossing this way,” Felix said, “but now as the summer starts and it’s not cold, people want to cross.”