NOGALES, AZ: Today a caravan of 17* transgender and gay Central American migrants, 11 of whom are transgender women, will arrive at the US-Mexico border to request asylum in the U.S. Members of the caravan and their supporters are holding simultaneous rallies on both sides of the US-Mexico border.
“Where I come from physical, psychological and verbal abuse is the norm for indigenous transwomen like me,” said a transgender asylum-seeker who fled Nicaragua and is part of today’s caravan. “I had to leave my tribal community by the age of 12 or face the dangerous consequences at the hands of my own tribal government, and that was just the beginning.”
Starting on the Mexico side in Nogales, Sonora, supporters will hold a rally as members of the caravan prepare to present themselves to US officials and formally request asylum. At the same time, supporters on the US side in Nogales, Arizona will also hold a rally urging officials to grant members of the caravan parole to pursue the legal claims from outside of detention.
“The members of the caravan are fleeing rampant discrimination, abuse, torture, and other forms of violence because of their gender identity or sexual orientation,” said Flor Bermudez, legal director at Transgender Law Center. “They should be eligible for asylum or other forms of relief and allowed to be paroled into the country.”
“These individuals are fleeing persecution at home, and are crossing today with hope that the United States will uphold its obligation to give each of them a full and fair opportunity to seek protection through our country’s asylum system,” said Keren Zwick, associate director of litigation at the National Immigrant Justice Center. “We call on the U.S. government to allow them to pursue their legal cases in the safety of the communities that are rallying around them today.”
Organizations supporting the caravan include National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC), Transgender Law Center (TLC), Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement, Mariposas Sin Fronteras, Puente Human Rights Movement, and Somos Un Pueblo Unido.
Transgender Law Center is the largest national trans-led organization advancing justice for transgender and gender nonconforming people through litigation, community organizing, policy advocacy, and public education. transgenderlawcenter.org
With offices in Chicago, Indiana, and Washington, D.C., Heartland Alliance’s National Immigrant Justice Center is a nongovernmental organization dedicated to ensuring human rights protections and access to justice for all immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers through a unique combination of direct services, policy reform, impact litigation and public education. Visit immigrantjustice.org and follow @NIJC.
*Updated: 17, not 16, members presented themselves at the border on Thursday, August 10th.