After traveling nearly 2,500 miles, braving nearly impossible conditions, weathering bigotry and betrayal from their own countries, and being labeled as criminals and rapists by the Trump administration, Pedro Nehemias and Erick Dubon finally had something to celebrate:. They were the first of eight couples from the LGBTQ+ migrant caravan offshoot to be married in Tijuana on Saturday.
According to Into, the ceremony was officiated by three people from a Unitarian Universalist Church in Northern California, who made their way to Tijuana to offer their support. The ceremonies took place at Enclave Caracol, an LGBTQ-friendly space in central Tijuana that has served as shelter for members of their caravan.
“This is an act of justice,” Pastor Hugh Cordoba told Into. “Queer migrants always get left aside, but they have a unique experience, and we want to honor that, even though many churches do not.”
Same-sex marriage was only legalized in Baja, California last year. Getting married is a dream fulfilled for many of the caravan’s members, who would be denied the right by their countries of origin. Even though this marked a happy occasion, many of the newlyweds (like Nehemias and Dubon) are still afraid of being separated at the border.
“We’ve made a new life for ourselves, and I need him,” Nehemias told Into. “I wake up, and he’s there. I go to bed, and I can say good night. He’s made life bearable, and I really cannot imagine them sending one of us back or splitting us up.”
Like many, the couple plans on applying for asylum, based on discrimination and assaults. In Guatemala, Nehemias was kicked out of his home at 15, before being forced into prostitution. Originally from Honduras, Dubon was assaulted by a gang, who smashed four of his teeth with a rock. Neither of their families accept their identity, and Nehemias still dreads telling his family about the wedding.
The caravan has been used as something of a campaign prop for the Trump administration, who infamously ordered 15,000 troops to the border to halt (or intimidate) the migrants. By year’s end, the Washington Post estimates that the total price of the military action at the border will cost United States taxpayers over $200 million. Yesterday, The Guardian published video of Tijuana residents waving Mexican flags, and shouting, “Out! Out!” at the caravan. One chant, “Aquí no te queremos,” echoed throughout the streets. In English, it translates to, “We don’t want you here.”