TIJUANA, Mexico — Standing on the seaside in Tijuana on Wednesday, Christian caught his first glimpse of america. The nation he hoped to name his personal was partially obscured behind a metallic border fence within the strategy of being strengthened with barbed wire by building crews surrounded by US troopers.
Christian, who declined to present his final title out of concern of damaging his potential asylum case, was a part of an LGBT contingent of the caravan that separated from the primary group in Mexico Metropolis to move for Tijuana. The contingent mentioned it confronted discrimination from inside the caravan along with the hazards that such a visual group confronted on the journey by Mexico.
“We went forward of the primary caravan as a result of we put our lives in danger on the street,” Christian advised BuzzFeed Information. “My coronary heart feels lighter now that we’re right here, we’re so shut.”
The homosexual 24-year-old from Guatemala mentioned that somebody threw a bottle at him in the course of the caravan’s march north. When the group, which incorporates a number of transgender ladies, would attempt to hitchhike whereas touring with the primary caravan, drivers who had been providing a raise to different members of the caravan would deny them rides or depart them stranded alongside desolate highways, Christian mentioned.
There’s one other LGBT group at the moment nonetheless touring with the primary caravan, which is anticipated to reach to Tijuana within the coming days.
The group of about 80 arrived in Tijuana on Sunday afternoon after 54 hours on the street, driving inside two buses paid for by RAICES, an immigrant advocacy group primarily based out of San Antonio, Texas.
RAICES raised $18,000 for this LGBT contingent of the caravan and spent $6,100 for bus tickets and $4,000 for an Airbnb. The advocacy group used the rest of the cash to ship a authorized crew to Mexico.
As soon as they’d arrived, the homosexual, bisexual, and transgender migrants would cook dinner for one another or listened to music whereas their compatriots met with attorneys Contained in the compound of houses the place they lived whereas they deliberate their subsequent steps and potential immigration circumstances.
Joe Rivano Barros, subject officer for RAICES, first linked up with the caravan in Mexico Metropolis to find out the group’s wants. Transferring the LGBT group forward of the caravan due to the discrimination and risks on the street was excessive on the record.
There was additionally a priority that if this LGBT group arrived with the primary caravan — which is estimated to incorporate round 5,000 folks — they must wait a very long time for his or her likelihood to request asylum in america, Rivano Barros mentioned.
The present wait record for asylum seekers in Tijuana is about 1,000 folks lengthy with the wait pegged at 4 to 5 weeks. Immigration attorneys who work with refugees on the border had been involved that the anticipate asylum would greater than double as soon as the primary caravan arrived to Tijuana, a course of that is already bottlenecked. A brand new coverage from the Trump administration set into place final week can be meant to funnel would-be asylum seekers to ports of entry, doubtlessly lengthening the method additional.
Ready might be harmful for migrants who should spend weeks in border communities earlier than they’ll ask for asylum from US border authorities — they’re typically seen as simple targets by organized crime. That hazard is augmented for LGBT migrants who might be extra seen and are at elevated danger of being intercourse trafficked by cartels in Tijuana.
“Being on the finish of that line may very well be a dying sentence for them,” Rivano Barros advised BuzzFeed Information. “Additionally the US response may very well be so much completely different as soon as the caravan will get to Tijuana and if the insurance policies change we wish to be certain this group will get what they’re legally required to obtain underneath worldwide legislation.”
Cristian Sanchez, an legal professional with RAICES who has been assembly with the LGBT group in Tijuana to debate potential immigration circumstances, mentioned a lot of them are excited about requesting asylum.
“I’ve seen a wide range of circumstances from assaults to rapes by the hands of authorities, cartels, and even inside households,” Sanchez advised BuzzFeed Information. “These folks have been harassed and horrible issues have occurred to them solely due to who they’re.”
Attorneys are additionally explaining what the asylum course of appears to be like like within the US and Mexico, in addition to the virtually assured weeks-long detention in america as soon as they flip themselves into immigration authorities.
“It is an uphill battle however they’re simply making an attempt to save lots of their lives and lots of will die in the event that they return dwelling,” Sanchez mentioned.
Christian mentioned he was shot a number of instances by members of an area gang in Guatemala as a result of he was homosexual, nonetheless hiding his sexual orientation was by no means an choice.
“I really like being homosexual although my life is in danger again dwelling due to it,” Christian mentioned. “Life continues to be stunning.”