USC Medical Center staff rally in unity with immigrant families

Julian Hirschbaum, a second-year internal medicine pediatric resident at the L.A. County-USC medical center, said that medical professionals should be able to treat those in detention centers. (Photo from Committee of Interns and Residents/Facebook)

Nearly 75 health professionals from the L.A. County-USC Medical Center rallied Wednesday to call attention to human rights violations that have occured at the border.

Resident physicians across California expressed anger over the two deaths of migrant children at the U.S.-Mexico border at simultaneous solidarity rallies Wednesday, according to a press memo from the Committee of Interns and Residents/Service Employees International Union.

Jorge Orozco, CEO of the medical center, spoke at the rally and praised his staff for their commitment to serving the community.

“I want to recognize the amazing doctors that we have at our hospital,” Orozco said. “You [can] see [their] passion … commitment and … heart [in] that they provide care to everyone who comes into our doors. Not [just] immigrants, but also individuals throughout L.A. County who are looking for the highest level of medical care and specialization.”

Guatemalan migrant children Jakelin Caal Maquin, 7, and Felipe Alonzo-Gomez, 8, died in U.S. custody after arriving at the border in December, according to CNN.

Orozco said that the tragic events at the border were “criminal” and that the hospital wanted to let the community know that it supports them.

“I am here for just one reason and that is to let you know that these are our children — they are not foreign children,”  Orozco said. “They are our nephews, our kids, our sons, our daughters, our grandchildren. This is our community that we are serving.”

The rally occurred in conjunction with demonstrations at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, UCLA and other locations throughout California.  

“Residents at [the hospital] … are often the first medical professionals recent arrivals have the opportunity to see in California,” the SEIU memo said. “Any preventable child death is too many for resident doctors and interns who serve immigrant patients every day.”

Julian Hirschbaum, a second-year internal medicine pediatric resident at the medical center, spoke at the demonstrations on why the matter of immigration and the passing of the two migrant children was personal to the physicians.

“Their deaths were needless and, in many experts’ opinions, preventable,” Hirschbaum said. “As physicians and pediatricians at L.A. County-USC Medical Center, we care for children like Jakelin and Felipe each day. This news hits especially close to home.”

Hirschbaum said that pediatricians should be allowed into detention centers. He also condemned the detention of children, particularly in light of the potential lasting effects of trauma.

“Even after children are released from detention centers, there are terrible effects including PTSD [and] mental and physical health needs that extend on into adulthood,”  Hirschbaum said. “No child or adult should have to face the conditions of these detention centers.”

Hirschbaum said the hospital is dedicated to helping those immigrant communities in Los Angeles and that immigrants should never be afraid to seek help from health professionals.

“Another and equally important reason why we are here today is that L.A. County-USC will continue to provide the best medical care possible to children and adults,” Hirschbaum said. “It doesn’t matter which country you come from, it doesn’t matter which language you speak either — we welcome you.”