A caravan with close to 80 LGBTQ individuals arrived in Tijuana, Baja California on Sunday only to be welcomed by opposition from the residents of the area. The caravan is comprised of people who separated from the main caravan of Central American migrants because of discrimination among the other travelers reports NBC.
Loly Mendez, a 28-year-old trans woman from El Salvador shared her experience:
In my country there is violence, a lack of work and opportunities. In the caravan there is also violence — against the LGBTQ community.
I am going to a country where I know I will achieve my dreams.
The group has traveled more than 1,000 miles, many of those miles have been on foot, others hitching rides on trucks, buses, or any vehicle they can. Many will charge a small fee to transport migrant groups, but the price goes up for the LGBTQ. They have even been kicked out mid-ride by transporters.
Lady Perez, a 23-year-old from Honduras said:
In our country the rights of the LGBTQ community are not respected, and anti-social groups take advantage of that. They have denigrated us. Supposedly you're emigrating from your country because of the violence, the discrimination, the homophobia, and it turns out that in the very caravan you face this kind of violence.
Those LGBTQ individuals who joined the separate caravan wanted safety in numbers since they were being threatened and ridiculed since they left their homelands. Those who arrived to Tijuana are staying in an Airbnb that is being financed by a group of unnamed American lawyers as you will see in the video below captured by journalist Jorge Nieto. In the video you can witness residents of the Playas de Tijuana area opposing the group of LGBTQ individuals for fear that they will be persecuted and bring more issues to the area.
The neighborhood association made a Spanish public post on Facebook reading. Translation of the statement reads:
We spoke with Efrén González, coordinator of human rights and César Mejia, leader of the LGBT community, members of the migrant caravan, commenting that they were guided and supported by US lawyers to solve their immigration status, they estimate that their stay will be one week in the house they rented on Olas Altas street. They will be presenting themselves 15 people at a time to the United States border to resolve their immigration status, there are 77 people, are organized as follows; CDH staff supports them to make their food purchases, they will avoid walking around the streets, talking loudly, avoid making noise at night. They were warned that the area is patrolled, that there is insecurity, that they avoid being confused. We agree that respect should prevail, since this section is continually affected by crime and we do not want both them and us to be harmed.
César first, apologizes because he asserts that he was upset when he was approached by some neighbors and considers that if he does not manage to resolve his issue in a week they will look for a shelter. Neighbors, we ask for tolerance, and tomorrow I will seek to speak with the Delegate to give us security given the conditions of the section.
José Martínez, a resident of Playas de Tijuana shared his perspective with Spanish media outlet Desastre.mx. Translation of his statement reads:
We have nothing against them, but we also don’t want them to come out with their colorful flags to provoke us…I’m not against gays or anything like that, but it’s not fair that I have a small daughter and I don’t want to her to see any of that. Why? Because men kissing other men should be done in the privacy of their own home, they shouldn’t bring that to our community.
The LGBTQ caravan includes many individuals who are escaping unbearable and dangerous conditions in Honduras, El Salvador, and Nicaragua. They seek asylum in a place where there is hope and resources for their community. Just days ago Trump signed an executive order that states that applicants for asylum will be ineligible unless they are coming to a designated port of entry. Tijuana borders San Diego, a designated port of entry, but asylum seekers could face problems during the process.
Watch the video of the interaction between members of the LGBTQ migrant caravan and the Tijuana community who opposes their presence.