And they’re being persecuted both here and at home. The problem isn’t exaggerated: it’s real. There are more than 800,000 migrants seeking asylum here in the United States. The Trump Administration is trying to do everything it can to turn them back or prevent them from entering. His supporters routinely reiterate the willfully ignorant belief that the migrants wouldn’t be locked up in concentration camps if they had entered the country the “legal” way.
But they did exactly that.
By law, asylum seekers are supposed to come into the country through a point of entry and make their application. That’s what they did. There’s nothing illegal about it. That’s why Trump is trying to change the current laws to make it illegal.
Some of these folks left their home countries because they were persecuted for sexual orientation or gender identity; we’re supposed to be more civilized in this country, right? It’s getting harder and harder to make the case when those leaning right are so heavily influenced by Fox and Friends.
The UCLA School of Law’s Williams Institute believes there are around 267,000 undocumented LGBTQ residents of the United States. They face the same obstacles as the LGBTQ community in general, except those obstacles can be greatly amplified and become much more difficult to tackle simply because these people have a different ethnic origin.
One migrant shares her story that began on January 1, 2017 when she crossed the border with Mexico at El Paso, Texas — a place the entire nation knows very well by now. It’s not only the location of a recent mass shooting, but it’s one of the places where asylum seekers are legally allowed to cross into the country in order to make their application.
“That was the start of another horrible ordeal,” she says, “which was going into ICE detention. It is difficult when you show up and your appearance is completely feminine but your document says you are a man. They brought me into the famous ‘ice boxes’ as they call them. And they were full of men, and they knew that because I was there, that I was trans.”
When she was verbally assaulted and screamed at, the officials there gave her little in the way of consolation. They handcuffed her to a pole outside for the next six hours. Weeks later, she was finally transferred to a special facility, but not before enduring additional trauma.
While the experience is worse for LGBTQ individuals, it highlights the way the migrants are being treated in general: like prisoners, like criminals, like animals, but not like human beings.