A group of 76 LGBTQ migrants from Central America who split from the so-called caravan reached Tijuana, Mexico, Sunday.
Those who arrived in the city, just across the border from San Diego, cited homophobic harassment as the reason they left the original group, which consisted of thousands.
“We were discriminated against, even in the caravan,” said Erick Dubon, 23, a Honduran who was accompanied by his boyfriend, Pedro Nehemias, 22, told The Washington Post. “People wouldn’t let us into trucks, they made us get in the back of the line for showers, they would call us ugly names.”
The group arrived on buses provided by an unidentified organization, San Diego TV station KNSD reports. They will attempt to enter legally through points of entry at either San Ysidro or Otay Mesa, both near San Diego, although Customs and Border Protection announced Monday it was closing some of the entry lanes at those points "in preparation for the migrant caravan and the potential safety and security risk that it could cause."
This will likely lengthen the wait times for the migrants, but those who arrived Sunday expressed optimism that they will be able to enter the U.S. legally and receive asylum. Donald Trump last week issued an executive order denying asylum to those who enter illegally, but that will not affect those arriving at legal points of entry. The order is also being challenged in court.
Many of the LGBTQ migrants have been persecuted for their sexual orientation or gender identity. There are many other reasons the migrants have fled Central America as well. The larger caravan and groups that split off from it include "Guatemalans leaving behind poverty, Hondurans escaping gang violence, Nicaraguans running from a harsh political crackdown," the Post reports. Mexico plans to offer asylum to some of the migrants, but most intend to go on to the U.S.
Those in the LGBTQ group expressed gratitude at having reached Tijuana. “I cannot believe we actually made it here to the border,” Andy Albaringa, 23, a trans woman from El Salvador, told the Post. “The trip was so tiring.”