Migrant Health Interest Group / Physicians for Human Rights

About Us

Why Migrant Health?

  • Work with vulnerable populations, underserved communities, and incarcerated asylum-seekers in Arizona
  • Mitigate the human crisis in our state, one of only 4 border states
  • Put social justice ideals into practice
  • Learn about legal-medical partnerships
  • Practice trauma-informed care
  • Learn new cultures and languages
  • Practice community medicine
  • Learn about physicians' role in legislative advocacy

MHIG Mission Statement

&

Contact Information

The mission of the Migrant Health Interest Group is to educate, train, and mobilize Arizona’s medical students, health care workers, and doctors in the care of refugees, migrants, and new Americans.


Contact:

Matthew Campanella - President

mcampanella@email.arizona.edu

Rebecca Paxton - President

rpaxton@email.arizona.edu

Rebia Khan - Vice President

rebiakhan@email.arizona.edu

Amaris Tapia - Vice President

Physicians for Human Rights

Asylum Evaluation Clinic

  • PHR student program offers medical students the opportunity to use history-gathering and physical exam skills to provide forensic evaluations for asylum seekers in Arizona's ICE detention centers
  • Shadowing asylum evaluations not only exposes students to the unique points of view of human rights atrocity survivors, but also allows them to observe and practice trauma-informed interviewing and cross-cultural communication.

What We Do

Tijuana Service Trip

Annual faculty and student service trip to Tijuana, Mexico, with the Refugee Health Alliance to help run the mobile Saturday clinics at the shelters housing families of refugees and asylum seekers waiting to enter into the U.S.

"Every Saturday, at overcrowded shelters throughout Tijuana, RHA hosts mobile clinics for those who are unable to travel to their main clinic. Clinical teams of 15 -35 physicians, nurses, EMTs and other medical volunteers typically see between 80-160 patients."


See "Our History" Below


Asylum Clinic and Asylum Evaluation Trainings

We offer trainings to learn asylum evaluation documentation. Students then may assist UA faculty in conducting medical evaluations and writing an affidavit, which will be used as expert witness testimony in an immigration trial. These encounters take place inside U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention centers.

Humanitarian Parole Letter Program

We work with local immigration lawyers to start a new program writing letters on behalf of asylum seekers in ICE detention facilities who are especially vulnerable to contracting COVID-19 or especially vulnerable to complications of illness. Physician letters can be used to show the immigration court that the client is unsafe in detention and argue for their release. The letter is written after reviewing medical records provided by the attorney and deciphering the client's vulnerable status.

Contact: Rebia Khan rebiakhan@email.arizona.edu

Future Projects: MS1s Wanted

The Migrant Health Interest Group is looking for the leaders from the next class to help continue the work accomplished in the 2019-2020 year. Our goals are to expand opportunities in the area of migrant health for UACOM-P by creating a new CHIP site in Phoenix that provides comprehensive and culturally-competent care to recently arrived and/or undocumented immigrants. We are seeking passionate active leaders to take over and plan the various projects that improve medical care for uninsured and undocumented members of our community.

Our History

The Migrant Health Interest Group (MHIG) organizes opportunities available to all UACOM-P students to learn and gain experience related to migrant health and the role of physicians in mitigating the migrant crisis here in Arizona, along the U.S.-Mexico border, and abroad. Our goals are to partner with clinician networks on the U.S.-Mexico border for educational resources and volunteer opportunities and to gain clinical experience in migrant crisis centers and federal immigrant detention facilities in Arizona and other border states. With the support of Physicians for Human Rights National Student Program (PHR), we send students to conferences to train to provide legal-medical documentation for asylum seekers and refugees, to train in trauma-informed care, and to learn about the specific health problems that affect this population through educational events, networking, and by gaining first-hand experience as medical volunteers.

MHIG’s accomplishments in the 2019-2020 academic year reflect the mission of the interest group. First, MHIG sent students to the PHR Asylum Evaluation Training conference held by the University of Arizona COM-Tucson and The Arizona Asylum Network. Students received training in asylum evaluation, a unique legal-medical partnership in which students use their medical knowledge to help immigrants in federal detention centers support their immigration cases by providing a history and physician exam and writing an affidavit that may be used in court (e.g., such a report may document physical signs of torture, abuse, psychological injury, or post-traumatic stress disorder).

MHIG then attended a second PHR asylum training in Phoenix. Subsequently, MHIG has sent numerous students to the detention centers in Florence and Eloy to employ these skills in doing asylum evaluations with University of Arizona faculty physicians.

In November 2018, MHIG organized a service-learning trip over Thanksgiving weekend to Tijuana, Mexico with the Refugee Health Alliance (RHA) to further its mission of “gaining first-hand experience as medical volunteers” in the area of migrant health. Currently in Tijuana, thousands of asylum seekers are living in refugee camps or on the streets without adequate clothing, shelter, or medical care, and with little to no services in place to support them. MHIG co-founder, Matthew Campanella, has been active in the Refugee Health Alliance network since December 2018 and recommended that the group volunteer for RHA because the organization provides direct medical relief weekly to hundreds of migrants in crisis who are in shelters or homeless in Tijuana, Mexico, while providing sustainable, appropriate, and culturally competent care via their partnership with U.S. and Mexican physicians.

RHA was created to help organize and mobilize Southern California providers and their networks at the Mexican border to aid in the refugee crisis. Since their inception in November 2018, RHA has completed approximately 7,000 patient consultations and has become, with the exception of the Mexican government, the largest charity healthcare provider to the migrants and shelters in Tijuana. RHA’s focus is not exclusive to medical treatment. It also provides mental health services in the form of psychological consultations and group support to vulnerable subsets of the population including unaccompanied minors and LGBT+ migrants. Every Saturday, at overcrowded shelters throughout Tijuana, RHA hosts mobile clinics for those who are unable to travel to their main clinic. Clinical teams of 15 -35 physicians, nurses, EMTs and other medical volunteers typically see between 80-160 patients.

With the financial support of UACOM-P Latino Medical Student Association (LMSA), Arizona Latino-Medical Association (ALMA), The Medical Student Government (MSG) of UACOM-P, and private donors, MHIG sent 10 students, three UA-affiliated faculty or staff physicians, and one interpreter to volunteer with RHA’s mobile clinic in January 2020. During the trip, medical students saw patients and presented to the faculty preceptors at three of Tijuana’s refugee shelters.

MHIG also sponsored a medical supply drive and collected thousands of dollars of much-needed medication, hygiene products, sexual health items, and other medical supplies. The MHIG volunteers transported these supplies to the refugee camps in Tijuana on their medical volunteer mission.

Currently, MHIG is working to expand opportunities for students with PHR to work with local immigration lawyers to write letters on behalf of asylum seekers in ICE detention facilities who are especially vulnerable to contracting COVID-19 or especially vulnerable to complications of illness. Physician letters can be used to show the immigration court that the client is unsafe in detention and argue for their release. The letter is written after reviewing medical records provided by the attorney and deciphering the client's vulnerable status.

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