This week LGBTQ members from the migrant caravan were the first to reach the U.S. border in Tijuana, Mexico. LGBTQ members arrived at the border before the rest of the caravan because they were escaping discrimination and harassment from within the caravan itself as well as the dangers members faced traveling through Mexico.
While fleeing gang violence, political oppression, and persecution for their sexual identities, a group of LGBTQ individuals left the caravan because of discrimination from other migrants. One refugee, Erick Dubon from Honduras, stated that “people wouldn’t let us into trucks, they made us get in the back of the line for showers, they would call us ugly names.” Another migrant said that at times truck drivers left LGBTQ migrants stranded on highways.
Even now that the first group of LGBTQ migrants are in Tijuana, they still face harassment and violence. Waiting in Tijuana for approval to enter the United States is dangerous, especially for LGBTQ members who are at heightened risks for cartel sex trafficking. Nicole Ramos, an immigration lawyer, said that a previous group of LGBTQ migrants faced difficulties during their stay in Tijuana. “They experienced a lot of violence, including having the shelter they were staying in robbed and set on fire,” she said.
RAICES aided the LGBTQ migrants, ensuring they reached the border before the rest of the 5,000 person caravan. There was major concern that the LGBTQ migrants would be delegated to the end of the line for entry into the US, placing the already vulnerable population in more danger. Rivano Barros, a field officer for RAICES said that, “being at the end of that line could be a death sentence for them” and that the US policy “could be a lot different once the caravan gets to Tijuana.”
Currently, the LGBTQ migrants, and many in the caravan, are seeking asylum in the United States. However, the current wait list for asylum seekers in Tijuana is about 1,000 people long with a four to five week waiting time. The large influx of migrants from the caravan has many immigration attorneys worried that the already long wait times will double. Once migrants turn themselves in to the US, they will face weeks in detention.
Media Resources: Buzzfeed News 11/14/2018; The Washington Post 11/13/18