The first group of migrants from the large caravan traveling across Central America, seeking asylum in the United States, has made it to the Mexican coastal border city of Tijuana. The small group, made up of about 80 of the more than 3,600 migrants, identify largely as LGBT and chose to split off from the main caravan after experiencing discrimination in towns they stopped at and from within the caravan itself, according to NPR.
"Whenever we arrived at a stopping point the LGBT community was the last to be taken into account in every way," said Honduran migrant Cesar Mejia at a news conference on Sunday. "So our goal was to change that and say, 'This time we are going to be first.'"
The offshoot group, made up of Honduran, Guatemalan, Nicaraguan, and Salvadoran migrants, slowly formed as the LGBTQ people within the larger caravan gravitated toward one another on their long trek and is weeks ahead of the largest group of migrants some 1,400 miles south in Guadalajara, Mexico.
"We are fleeing a country where there's a lot of crime against us," an unidentified trans woman told NPR. Many within the splinter group plan to use their status as members of a persecuted class to seek asylum within the U.S.
After linking up, the LGBTQ migrants worked with U.S. and Mexico-based LGBTQ groups to arrange bus travel to the border, according to Voice of San Diego. "When we entered Mexican territory, those organizations began to help us. We did not contact them; they learned from our group thanks to the media and decided to help us," said Mejia.
Unfortunately the group was met with disdain and anger when they arrived at an upscale neighborhood in Playas de Tijuana, with residents complaining that they should have been warned that the LGBTQ group was coming. Locals voiced concerns about the migrants being dangerous or using drug money to pay for the house they are currently living in.
Mejia told reporters that the group wants to go through the proper channels and is waiting for their representatives to arrive before they officially request asylum.