(UPI) Bisbee, AZ — When 42-year-old Mexican migrant worker, Papito Cruz, was severely injured after falling from the US border fence, he thought his life was ruined.
The accident occurred during an illegal nighttime crossing into the U.S. in December 2011. Cruz became snagged in the barbed wire that stretches along the top of the 20-foot-high wall, where he hung for three days.
“My pants, they get caught on the metal. I hang in the air like a pinata for two days. I pray to God for help, and a man from Mexico come and climb up to me. I thinking ‘thank you God,’ but he only steal my shoes,” said the distraught victim.
After 72 hours suspended in mid-air, Cruz’s pants tore away and he fell 20 feet to the ground. Severely injured and unable to walk, Cruz lay for two days without food, water or first-aid, before he was finally discovered by US Border Patrol officers. He was taken to the Sierra Vista Regional Health Center in nearby Bisbee, AZ, where he was treated for exposure, a broken leg and other injuries.
The uninsured immigrant remains bedridden, at a cost of nearly $2,400 a day. To date, his bills exceed $92,000. He will remain in the hospital for at least three more months, undergoing at least two more surgeries and intensive rehabilitation, all of it at US taxpayers’ expense.
“I love being in the hospital, but I have no monies,“ said Cruz from his hospital bed. “My lawyer say it going to take many, many month for me to get better and then I not be able to work again. I feel sad that I have been robbed of my working because of the bad fence.”
Despite Cruz’s legal and medical problems, he remains optimistic.
Two days ago, Cruz’s wife, nine-month’s pregnant, was brought to the United States by special waiver so she could visit her husband. Yesterday, she went into labor while visiting her husband in the hospital, and gave birth to a six-pound baby boy. Because the baby, known as an “anchor baby,” was born in the United States, she automatically becomes a citizen, making it highly improbable that either parent will be deported.
“I am the happiest man in the Untited (sic) States!,” said the smiling father.
Attorney Mark F. Stevens, who is representing Cruz, says lawsuits have been filed against the State of Arizona, the US Border Patrol and the Department of Homeland Security, claiming negligence in the construction and maintenance of the border fence, and human-rights violations.
“The Department of Homeland Security is well aware that people climb over the fence, and by building it nearly 20-feet high is inviting disaster,” said Stevens. “Do they think that people can’t fall and get injured like my client did? The federal government mandates that all motor vehicles must have bumpers, not because people will have accidents, but because people may have accidents. It’s a precaution, and, in my client’s case, precautions were not taken. The wall is dangerously high, the barbed wire is a cruel obstacle, and, in our opinion, some type of padding should be laid down to prevent injuries, should an immigrant fall.”
An official at the Arizona District Attorney’s office, speaking off the record, said that it is cheaper to settle before the case goes to trial.
“If the State of Arizona goes to trial, we’re looking at a potential settlement of five million dollars. The projected lifetime cost of Cruz’s hospital bills, unemployment, Medicare and government-subsidized housing is less than the two million dollars they are asking for. We can potentially save Arizona taxpayers three million dollars by settling the case before trial.”