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A Medical Assessment of Trump’s Asylum Policy

After World War II, when Jewish refugees arriving in the US were sent back to Europe, where many died in Nazi concentration camps, Americans declared, "Never again." With US President Donald Trump's Migration Protection Protocols, never has arrived.

LOS ANGELES – In a stuffy attic-turned-office in Tijuana, Mexico, Juan (his name has been changed to protect his identity) described the harrowing events that drove him to flee his home in Guatemala, travel thousands of miles by foot, and request asylum in the United States. As emergency physicians at a Los Angeles hospital that serves the city’s most disenfranchised residents, we are no strangers to tales of despair. But Juan’s story would be enough to stun even the most jaded of our profession – and yet it wasn’t enough for US President Donald Trump’s administration to offer him refuge.

As physicians with special training in forensic evaluations, we had traveled to Tijuana to meet with Juan, at the request of his lawyer. Our goal was to determine whether the physical and emotional toll of the violence Juan had suffered in Guatemala could be confirmed objectively, thereby corroborating Juan’s claim of a credible fear of returning home – a basic criterion for granting an asylum request.

It quickly became clear that Juan easily met this threshold. He meticulously recounted occasions in which masked men – members of a gang backed by the local government – shouted racial epithets at him and beat him nearly to death, then showed us physical scars that supported his claims.

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