On Sunday night, a group that split off from the main Central American migrant caravans arrived in Tijuana — the Mexican city that shares a border with San Diego, California and serves as one of the primary entry ports to the United States.
According to journalist Jorge Nieto, the branched-off caravan is made up of nearly 80 LGBTQ people who said they faced so much discrimination traveling with the main caravan, they decided to band together and head for the border separately.
Nieto told INTO many of the LGBTQ migrants are staying at an Airbnb rental paid for by a group of American lawyers whose identity he was not able to immediately confirm.
The queer and trans contingent arrived at a bus station on Sunday night, and is currently located just a few miles from the U.S. border. But almost immediately after arriving, residents of the Playas de Tijuana neighborhood where the migrants are being housed took issue and began arguing with them, telling them to leave.
“We are surprised, we are impacted, we are uncomfortable,” one neighbor told Nieto, who posted footage of the interaction on YouTube. In the video, one of the migrants is seen explaining to the neighbor, “We have paid to stay here with money through…Airbnb.”
In a Facebook post, the neighborhood association Vecinos de Playas de Tijuana A.C. said that a delegate from the caravan had agreed upon arrangements to make the area’s residents more comfortable with their presence, including not walking around at night, not being noisy, and getting help from human rights workers for errands like grocery shopping.
The post by the neighborhood association also said that the group contained 77 people in total, and that the migrants plan to apply for asylum at the U.S. border in groups of 15.
Tijuana is a comparatively LGBTQ-friendly city for the migrants, many of whom escaped threatening conditions in Honduras. The border city offers an LGBTQ community center, a drug treatment shelter for LGBTQ people, and a gay zone near Plaza Santa Cecilia in the city center.
But if the migrants decide to apply for asylum at the San Diego border rather than settling in Tijuana, they could face obstacles. On Friday, President Trump signed an executive order decreeing that applicants for asylum would be ineligible unless they apply at a designated port of entry — but so far, migrants have reported simply being turned away from official ports, despite following the presidential order’s mandate.
This is a developing story.
Photos: Jorge Nieto