April 9, 2019 at 6:23 am EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
PHOTOS: Washington Blade reports from US-Mexico border, Central America
A monument to migrants in Salcajá, Guatemala, on March 9, 2019. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

GUATEMALA CITY — Tens of thousands of migrants from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador have sought refuge in the U.S. over the last two years.

Activists in the three countries that comprise the Northern Triangle say violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity remain commonplace. These activists have told the Washington Blade these factors, along with poverty, are among the factors that have prompted LGBTI migrants to leave their countries and seek asylum in the U.S.

Roxsana Hernández, a transgender Honduran woman with HIV, died on May 25, 2018, while she was in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody in New Mexico. The American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico, the Santa Fe Dreamers Project and Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center last month said a dozen gay men and trans women suffered sexual harassment and other abuse while they were being held at an ICE detention facility near El Paso, Texas.

Activists in Central America with whom the Blade has spoken insist President Trump’s immigration policy — which includes demands for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and efforts to cut U.S. aid to Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador — has done little to deter migrants who hope to reach the U.S.

The Blade since January has reported from Guatemala; Honduras; El Salvador; Mexico’s Chiapas, Sonora and Baja California states; California and Arizona.

The Arizona Capitol in Phoenix on Jan. 23, 2019. Senate Bill 1070, a law then-Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed in 2010 that allowed police officers to check the immigration status of anyone who they suspected were in the U.S. illegally, are among the state’s anti-immigrant statutes that have sparked outrage in recent years. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)
Tucson, Ariz., is about an hour’s drive from the U.S.-Mexico border. Gay Arizona state Rep. Daniel Hernández (D-Tucson) represents portions of the city. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)
The Nogales port of entry in Nogales, Ariz., on Jan. 23, 2019 (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)
The Mexico-U.S. border from Nogales, Mexico, on Jan. 23, 2019 (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)
A woman with a toddler and a man speak to people from the Mexico side of a wall at the Nogales port of entry that marks the border between Mexico and the U.S. on Jan. 23, 2019 (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)
An irrigated field near Theba, Ariz., on Jan. 24, 2019. Many farms in Arizona and throughout the Southwest U.S. hire migrant laborers to work on their fields. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)
Interstate 8 parallels the U.S.-Mexico border throughout southeastern California. This gas station in Felicity, Calif., is less than two miles north of the border. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)
A television station on Jan. 25, 2019, broadcasts a story about migrants who used a ladder to climb over a fence along the U.S.-Mexico border near Yuma, Ariz.
El Centro, Calif., is located in California’s Imperial Valley, which borders Mexico. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)
Graffiti on the border fence between the Mexico and the U.S. as seen from the highway that runs parallel to Tijuana International Airport in Tijuana, Mexico, on Jan. 26, 2019. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)
Anti-President Trump bracelets for sale in Rosarito, Mexico, on Jan. 26, 2019. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)
A drag queen performs at Latinos Bar, a gay club in downtown Tijuana, Mexico, on Jan. 27, 2019. The club is less than a mile south of the main port of entry between Tijuana and San Ysidro, Calif. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

A migrant camp in Tijuana, Mexico, on Jan. 27, 2019. The camp is near the main port of entry between Tijuana and San Ysidro, Calif. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)
Migrant children from Mexico’s Michoacán state are among those who were living at Cobina Posada del Migrante, a lesbian-run migrant shelter in Mexicali, Mexico, on Jan. 27, 2019. The shelter is a few blocks south of the Calexico West Port of Entry between Mexico and California’s Imperial Valley. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)
Cassandra, right, is a transgender woman who manages Cobina Posada del Migrante, a lesbian-run migrant shelter in Mexicali, Mexico. The shelter is a few blocks south of the Calexico West Port of Entry between Mexico and California’s Imperial Valley. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)
From left, Lilith Hernández and Yadira Guerrero Castro of Una Mano Amiga, an HIV/AIDS service organization, in their offices in Tapachula, Mexico, on Jan. 29, 2019. Tapachula, which is in Mexico’s Chiapas state, is roughly 10 miles west of the Suchiate River that marks the border between Mexico and Guatemala. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)
Migrants gather at Miguel Hidalgo Central Park in Tapachula, Mexico, on Jan. 29, 2019. Tapachula, which is in Mexico’s Chiapas state, is roughly 10 miles west of the Suchiate River that marks the border between Mexico and Guatemala. (Washington blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)
Migrants sleep in Miguel Hidalgo Central Park in Tapachula, Mexico, on Jan. 29, 2019. Violence and harassment from local police officers are among the issues that LGBTI migrants face while traveling through the area around the Mexico-Guatemala border. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)
Clothes from migrants in Miguel Hidalgo Central Park in Tapachula, Mexico, hang on walls surrounding the park on Jan. 29, 2019. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)
A woman prays at the altar of Parroquia San Agustín in Tapachula, Mexico, on Jan. 29, 2019. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)
A U.N. Refugee Agency van parked on a street in Ciudad Hidalgo, Mexico, on Jan. 29, 2019. Ciudad Hidalgo is directly across the Suchiate River from Tecún Umán, Guatemala. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)
Rafts are used to transport people and goods across the Suchiate River, which marks the border between Mexico and Guatemala. Roxsana Hernández, a transgender Honduran woman with HIV who died in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody in 2018, is among the tens of thousands of migrants who have crossed this river in recent months. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)
A welcome sign in Tecún Umán, Guatemala, on Jan. 29, 2019. The Guatemalan city is directly across the Suchiate River from Ciudad Hidalgo, Mexico. Tens of thousands of migrants have crossed through this area in recent months. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)
A store in Tecún Umán, Guatemala, with a U.S. flag on Jan. 29, 2019. The store is less than a mile from the Suchiate River that marks the border between Guatemala and Mexico. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)
From left: Elvira Madrid Romero, founder of Brigada Callejera de Apoyo a la Mujer “Elisa Martínez,” and her colleague, Jaime Montero, speak inside the organization’s offices in Tapachula, Mexico, on Jan. 30, 2019. Many of the city’s sex workers who Brigada Callejera de Apoyo a la Mujer “Eliza Martínez” helps are migrants. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)
Migrants’ clothes hang on a soccer goal post in a park near the bank of the Suchiate River in Tecún Umán, Guatemala, on Jan. 30, 2019. The Guatemalan city is across the river from Ciudad Hidalgo, Mexico. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)
Migrants wait for humanitarian visas at the Ciudad Hidalgo port of entry in Ciudad Hidalgo, Mexico, on Jan. 30, 2019. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)
This road near Suchiate, Mexico, passes through banana fields. Migrants from Guatemala frequently cross the Suchiate River in order to work the banana industry in Mexico’s Chiapas state. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)
A flyer on a building in Guatemala City on Jan. 31, 2019, describes Vice President Pence as “persona non grata” during his June 2018 trip to the country. Activists in Central America with whom the Washington Blade has spoken say the Trump administration’s immigration policy has not deterred migrants from traveling to the U.S.-Mexico border. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)
Estuardo Juárez Moscoso of Asociación Lambda, a Guatemalan LGBTI advocacy group, stands in a room at his organization’s Guatemala City headquarters on Feb. 1, 2019, that serves as an emergency shelter for LGBTI migrants. Roxsana Hernández, a transgender Honduran woman with HIV who died in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody in 2018, received medications from Asociación Lambda before she traveled to Mexico with other migrants. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)
Guatemalans line up outside the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala City on March 5, 2019. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)
An evangelical church along the Pan-American Highway in Chimaltenango, Guatemala, on March 6, 2019. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)
Terraced hillsides along the side of a highway near Sololá, Guatemala, on March 6, 2019. Poverty has prompted thousands of Guatemalans who live in rural areas of the country to leave the country. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)
A market in Pajapita, Guatemala, on March 7, 2019. The town is less than 10 miles east of the Suchiate River that marks the border between Guatemala and Mexico. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)
A store in Tecún Umán, Guatemala, on March 7, 2019, advertises it can exchange Guatemalan quetzals, Mexican pesos, U.S. dollars, euros and Honduran lempiras. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)
The Guatemalan Red Cross in Tecún Umán, Guatemala, has provided assistance to thousands of migrants who have traveled through the city on the Guatemala-Mexico border since last October. Signs on the gate show migrants the routes they can travel through Mexico, provide them with self-care suggestions and say they can make free phone calls to relatives and charge their cell phones. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)
A van drives on the highway between Tecún Umán and Pajapita, Guatemala, on March 8, 2019. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)
Farmers in this valley near Zunil, Guatemala, grow cabbage and other crops. Poverty has prompted thousands of Guatemalans who live in rural parts of the country to migrate. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)
The front page of a Guatemalan newspaper on March 9, 2019, notes 24 Guatemalan migrants died in a bus accident in Mexico’s Chiapas state.
An electronic billboard from the U.N. Refugee Agency, the International Organization for Migration and the U.N. Development Program at Monseñor Óscar Arnulfo Romero International Airport in El Salvador on March 10, 2019, highlights efforts to combat discrimination against migrants. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)
A barber shop in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, on March 11, 2019. Several of the large migrant caravans that have brought migrants to the U.S. have left from the city. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)
A mural at a park in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, on March 11, 2019. Several of the large migrant caravans that have brought migrants to the U.S. have left from the city. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)
A store in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, on March 11, 2019, sells used clothes. Several of the large migrant caravans that have brought migrants to the U.S. have left from the city. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)
A caricature of two women holding hands is painted onto a wall in downtown San Pedro Sula, Honduras, on March 11, 2019, beneath graffiti that describes the police as “rapists” and “murderers.” Violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity is among the factors that have prompted LGBTI Hondurans to migrate to the U.S. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)
Passengers wait for buses inside the main bus station in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, on March 12, 2019. Several of the large migrant caravans that have left from San Pedro Sula in recent months have originated from this bus station. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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