Multiple trans women and other LGBTI youth seeking asylum are being held at the Mexican border. While waiting to enter the United States, they have been the victims of violent attacks including a fire set to the shelter they were staying at.
Condemnation of the Border Patrol
GLAD, a group of pro-LGBTI legal advocates, condemned the violence targeted at this group of individuals. They also urged US Border Patrol to allow these transgender women entry to the country.
‘The horrifying treatment of the transgender women who have traveled to our border seeking a reprieve from violence should be utterly unacceptable to every American,’ GLAD’s statement reads.
‘Our core American ideals of liberty, democracy, and human rights require us to offer refuge to those who face severe threats in their home countries. Asylum is a life-saving system that is designed precisely to protect the extremely vulnerable. We have a responsibility to ensure that system is open and available to those who need it, including transgender people and other members of the LGBT community forced to flee places where they are fundamentally unsafe because of who they are.’
‘We urge US Border Patrol to allow entry for all of these women and for the others who have traveled at great risk as part of the refugee caravan, to allow them the fair opportunity to make their case for asylum, and to ensure their safety and dignified treatment while their applications are processed.’
The asylum seekers
The San Diego Tribune initially broke the story, describing how these trans women (mainly from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador) are fleeing violence and are targeted ‘wherever they go.’
According to the Tribune, these women survived murder attempts, saw their friends being brutally beaten to death, and were forced into sex work. Thus, not all the trans women who originally were part of the caravan made it to the Tijuana, Mexico border.
‘Some of us have been kidnapped, assaulted, and disappeared,’ said 30-year-old Ivan Mondragon, who organized the transgender group. ‘Some have been forced into sex work. Here in Tijuana, one of our girls was assaulted, someone broke her rib and we haven’t seen her since she posted a video on Facebook after she was beaten.’
On the month-long journey through Mexico, only 20 of the 35 transgender women in the group made it.
‘I have friends who don’t have the opportunity to ask for asylum because they are already dead,’ 28-year-old Shannel Smith of Honduras told the Tribune.
‘I don’t think Mexico can give me the security I’m looking for,’ she said. I have friends who live here in Mexico and say it isn’t as safe as it seems.’
After this story was published on 6 May, the Tijuana shelter the group was staying at was set on fire. Advocates claim this is due to the group’s LGBTI status.
Interviews at last
On Friday 11 May, the group were finally permitted interviews, the Los Angeles Blade reports.
‘The eleven women and LGBT youth ultimately were able to process later this week,’ immigration attorney Nicole Ramos told the Los Angeles Blade. ‘It was a final group of 17, which included five unaccompanied minors. They are detained and the adults are awaiting the credible fear interview of the interview process.’
Ramos, who is based in Tijuana, was unable to provide more information.