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SEVERAL hundred Central American refugees fleeing poverty, violence and persecution began arriving at the Mexican border with the United States in Tijuana yesterday.
Among the first to reach the border town were a small group of around 50 LGBT asylum-seekers, who formed a caravan within the caravan and broke off from the main group.
Their epic hike has been complicated by occasional homophobic harassment from other migrants within the caravan.
“We were discriminated against, even in the caravan,” said Erick Dubon, 23, a Honduran migrant travelling with his boyfriend.
“People wouldn’t let us into trucks, they made us get in the back of the line for showers, they would call us ugly names.”
It is precisely this kind of discrimination the LGBT group is hoping to escape from by travelling to the US.
Loly Mendez, a 28-year-old transwoman from El Salvador, said she faced constant abuse back home and told of how she was threatened “that if my breasts were going to grow, they would cut them off.”
“In my country there is violence a lack of work and opportunities,” she said. “I am going to a country where I know I will achieve my dreams.”
Meanwhile across the border in Texas, US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis boasted today that the hasty deployment of troops would provide “very good training” for war.
Mattis added the mission had a historical parallel with 1916, when president Woodrow Wilson deployed tens of thousands of National Guard members to the border.
“That’s over a century ago,” Mattis said, “and the threat then was [Francisco] Pancho Villa’s troops — revolutionaries raiding across the border into the United States.”
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