LGBTQ migrants from Central America seeking asylum in the US faced hardship and discrimination not only from gangs that prey on migrants as they travel, but also from their fellow travelers. They were a part of a “caravan” of 3,600 asylum seekers, that started to journey from San Pedro Sula, Honduras in October 2018, traveled through Mexico, and reached the Northern Mexican city Tijuana, bordering the US, in November 2018. The members of the caravan were escaping all kinds of violence in their home countries of Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador.
The LGBTQ group of the caravan traveled together, in a group of around 80, to provide safety in numbers. They were subject to verbal abuse from all ends, and were even denied food and access to showers by other members of the caravan and other local groups. They weren’t about to receive a warm welcome from the US either, as President Trump frequently targeted the group of migrants during the 2018 Midterm Elections.
Migrant caravans from Central America travel through Mexico in the hopes of passing through the US-Mexico border in search for freedom. Many don’t make it in, and those who do are held at the border.
The migrants were fleeing discrimination and persecution of LGBTQ people in their own countries. They were threatened to be killed or tortured because of their sexuality. They embarked on a journey to the US in the hopes of obtaining a new life, with new opportunities to make a living in a more accepting community.
The LGBTQ group of the caravan stuck together and looked out for each other, for fear of being assaulted. They slept in abandoned, dilapidated hotels rather than outside, where they are subject to more violence. To prevent attacks, human rights workers have sent two people in green vests to travel with the caravan. These groups found the migrants through strong media coverage and decided to help.
They trekked over 1,000 miles in a month. Most of the traveling is done by foot when they are unable to hitch a ride on buses, trucks, or tractor-trailers.
When they finally reached Tijuana, they were subject to anger from the local residents, who were angry that they were staying in a house in their neighborhood.
They waited at detention centers in Texas for a very long time after crossing the border. These detention centers had no experience in housing transgender women. However, recently, it was announced that ten transgender women have won their asylum cases, and were allowed to leave the detention center. The immigrant rights group RAICES helped to provide legal support for the migrants to win their cases.
ELIANA DOFT loves to write, travel, and volunteer. She is especially excited by opportunities to combine these three passions through writing about social action travel experiences. She is an avid reader, a licensed scuba diver, and a self-proclaimed cold brew connoisseur.