Authorities released ten transgender women from Central America from South Texas Detention Center after successfully attaining asylum in the United States.
The women were part of a larger LGBTI group that split off from the main caravan of immigrants following discrimination. This caravan was the subject of Donald Trump’s ire and xenophobia during last year’s midterm elections.
According to CBS News, there were 30 transgender women in the LGBTI group who presented themselves for asylum at the border in Tijuana. They were fleeing discrimination and violence in their home countries.
One woman, Estrellita, was from Honduras.
‘I wanted to change things but that made me more of a target,’ she told CBS of her inner conflict over leaving. ‘I was assaulted and threatened by those who didn’t agree with me and hated trans people.’
She continued: ‘I love my country and wouldn’t have left but for the persecution I suffered. But I thought the U.S. would be pretty and the people would be nice and that has turned out to be true.’
The dangerous journey to freedom and safety
Making the trip through Central America to the US is a dangerous one, especially for LGBTI people.
According to RAICES, an immigrant rights organization based in Texas, LGBTI migrants said they often received food and other aid last.
‘The reality is that it’s extremely difficult to make that journey without a strong community behind you,’ said Aaron Morris, the executive director of Immigration Equality. ‘People can often get targeted by the very people that they’re traveling with.’
Upon entering the US, however, the discrimination and uphill battle for freedom continues for the trans women.
Detainees at an immigration detention center in New Mexico recently alleged ‘rampant’ abuse.
Further, not all migrants are as fortunate as these ten women who successfully gained asylum status. Recently, a transgender women was detained by ICE again a week after being granted asylum.
Other LGBTI migrants have died in the custody of ICE, although officials have denied any abuse or wrongdoing.
According to Cristian Sanchez, an attorney at RAICES, the rest of the transgender women are either still awaiting court dates or have already lost their asylum cases.