A group of around 100 asylum-seekers made it to the United States border ahead of the rest of the thousands of people traveling in the caravan, Rolling Stone is reporting. This group separated from the majority of the group to form their own caravan within a caravan — a group for people in the LGBTQ community. They decided to part ways with the majority of the group after receiving derogatory comments and unfair treatment from other people in the caravan.
The LGBTQ group made it ahead of the rest after a nonprofit called RAICES, aka The Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services, heard of their plight. The organization funded bus tickets, four nights of lodging, and even sent a legal team to Mexico. This resulted in them arriving at the border weeks ahead of the rest of the caravan. A second group of around 350 people arrived on Tuesday, November 13. The majority of the caravan, however, still have weeks to go. This last group is over 3,000 people.
While many migrants are said to be heading to the U.S. to flee gang violence, political persecution, and severe poverty, many members of the LGBTQ group are hoping to receive asylum due to them being part of a persecuted class.
“We are fleeing a country where there’s a lot of crime against us,” an unnamed transgender woman was quoted as saying.
One migrant named Nehemias de Leon has brought along documentation on his journey that shows that his life is at risk back in his home country of Guatemala due to him being a gay man. When asked if there was a possibility he could return to his home country, his response was chilling.
“It would be a death sentence,” he said.
Members of the LGBTQ community who are traveling in the Central American migrants caravan are sticking together for safety.— Chicago Tribune (@chicagotribune) November 13, 2018
Fearful of being attacked violently or sexually assaulted, they are together 24 hours a day, walking and sleeping in a group. https://t.co/kIJg30ejMG pic.twitter.com/iAEVHGejbl
As of now, their chances of being granted asylum are in danger, as President Trump has stated he plans to deny asylum to anyone crossing the border illegally. The group is still trying, however, and Mexican immigration officials set up small groups of migrants to rent temporary housing in the upscale community of Coronado in Playas de Tijuana. While they have not even crossed the border into the United States yet, they are still being discriminated against. Residents of Coronado expressed fear that the migrants will hurt them or that they might be drug traffickers.
“A few of the migrants left to go buy a couple of things, and they were harassed and insulted in the street,” said police officer Santiago Alvarez.
“This president, Trump, this wall — it is all so ridiculous. We’ve had migration for years, and these people just want to get to the U.S. They just want something better.”