U.S. faith groups try to block access to emergency care for migrants

Migrant women and girls from Central America and Mexico face an incredibly high risk of sexual assault on their way into the U.S. But developments are making it more difficult for these women to receive emergency medical care once they're across the border.
A migrant girl in Ixtepec, Mexico, waits for a freight train to depart on her way to the U.S. border. (Getty/File photo)
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Migrant women and girls from Central America and Mexico face an incredibly high risk of sexual assault on their way into the U.S. But developments are making it more difficult for these women to receive emergency medical care once they're across the border.

For many migrant women from Latin America, the promise of a better life in the United States is so alluring, they'll pay virtually any price to cross the border. And all too often, that price includes being sexually violated.
 
Fully 60 per cent of women who cross from Mexico into the U.S. are victims of rape. That figure is according to Amnesty International, and some others put it even higher. 

And it's not just adult women making this trek. Last year alone, nearly 70,000 unaccompanied children entered the U.S. at its southwest border. Almost half the kids apprehended by border patrol agents are girls.     
    
For all those women and girls chasing the American dream who do manage to cross the border into the U.S., they may not be getting the welcome they need.

Some of the federally-funded organizations that have traditionally helped these women and girls are faith-based groups. Earlier this month, several of them — including the National Association of Evangelicals, World Vision, and Catholic Relief Services —​ sent a letter to government objecting to new rules which would require them to offer "unimpeded access to emergency medical treatment, crisis intervention services, emergency contraception, and sexually transmitted infections prophylaxis." 

The groups are refusing to offer these emergency services since they say doing so would go against their religious or moral beliefs. We invited the signatories of the letter to speak to us, but none accepted.

To find out more, we were joined by:

Erin Siegal McIntyre is an Investigative Producer for Univision and Fusion.

Susan Yoshihara is the Senior Vice President for the Centre for Family and Human Rights. 

Brigitte Amiri is a Senior Staff Attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union. 

This segment was produced by The Current's Sarah Grant.