Transgender migrants in Juarez wait chance to apply for U.S. asylum

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4/15/22

Alejandra Gomez, a transgender woman, left her native Honduras a few months ago, fleeing discrimination and threats of violence. “That is the reason I am here,” Gomez said Thursday at the doorstep of a Juarez shelter for vulnerable migrants. “Even here in Juarez, I have been discriminated while looking for work. I have been attacked … they even tried to kill me.” Gomez and a dozen other transgender migrants are holding up at Respetrans, a converted hotel building overlooking the Rio Grande and Downtown El Paso that now serves as a shelter for vulnerable migrants. Their hope is to file asylum claims as soon as the Biden administration lifts Title 42 on May 23 or that their appointments in federal immigration court are speeded up. The public health order for two years has allowed American border agents to immediately expel newly arrived migrants and close U.S. ports of entry to asylum-seekers. “We’ve seen an increase since January in the arrival of LGBT migrants. Some of them are already being called (to U.S. immigration court) in groups of five or six,” said Grecia Herrera, director of the Respettrans shelter. The career nurse and community activist said a large group of LGBT migrants is at the Mexico-Guatemala border, waiting for travel permits to get to Juarez and prepared to present an asylum case in the United States. One common theme brought up by transgender migrants is the fear of violence and persecution, not only in their countries but also in Mexico. The women see the United States as the only option to live a life free of fear and discrimination. “There is no work (here) for transgender people. We are often threatened by homophobic people,” said Estela, another transgender migrant from Central America.

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