A Mexican mayor who provided assistance to LGBTI migrants has said Trump’s demand for a wall is a ‘tactic’.
Jesús Antonio Pujol Irastorza is the mayor of Mexican border town Nogales, a port of entry to the US. The city borders Nogales, Arizona.
Daniel Hernández, one of four openly gay members of the Arizona Legislature, represents Nogales in the Arizona House of Representatives.
‘It is practically one city divided by the border,’ Pujol said of the towns known as Ambos Nogales, or Both Nogales.
‘Many have relatives, friends who live there, and many people live there and then come to work here.’
LGBTI migrants in Nogales
About 45 LGBTI migrants from Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala and Mexico arrived in Nogales in November 2018 from Tijuana.
Pujol’s administration provided them with food, clothing, and blankets. They also offered rooms in two hotels and access to one of the four migrant shelters in the city.
‘We received them like any other migrant, like any other person who comes, seeks help,’ Pujol told the Washington Blade.
‘We received them, we took care of them.’
Better economic conditions and fleeing discrimination
Pujol further said that seeking better economic conditions in the US is still one of the main reasons to flee their countries. However, many migrants had suffered racism and other discrimination in their home countries or states, he explained.
Some members of the group arriving in Tijuana last year and identifying as LGBTI said they had faced discrimination from the caravan.
US Army troops who were deployed around Nogales installed barbed wire on top of the border fence in anticipation of the migrants’ arrival.
Shipping containers temporarily blocked two of the six vehicle lanes on the US side of the Nogales port of entry.
Pujol described the Trump administration’s decision to deploy troops and install razor wire along the border fence ‘a tactic of intimidation’.
‘It is a tactic to go to certain people who want to build this wall…to say, look Congress, look Senate, we need to build this wall because groups of 5,000, 10,000 people who want to stay in the country are coming,’ Pujol said.
After the government shutdown
The partial federal government shutdown over Trump’s demands for border wall funding ended on 25 January.
Trump’s administration then began its controversial pilot ‘remain in Mexico’ program. It will force some migrants who ask for asylum at the San Ysidro port of entry south of San Diego to remain in Mexico as they await the outcome of their cases.
Pujol said Nogales normally receives migrants, but not in the large numbers arrived in Tijuana last year. Furthermore, he added Trump’s policies have not deterred migrants from traveling to the border.
‘They are not afraid of what has been happening with the wall, with the new barbed wire,’ said Pujol.