Tijuana has an appalling lack of services for all migrants, and very few LGBTQ+ organizations. The phenomenon of caravan migration, the constant assault on the rights of asylum seekers, the continually increasing rate of deportation, and repression across the world towards the LGBTQ+ community have greatly increased the number of people in Tijuana who fit into both categories of migrant and LGBTQ+.
As waitlists grow longer and as more Central Americans are forced to wait in Tijuana during their asylum process (with no increase in services on the southern side of the border), the need continues to grow. Whether seeking asylum, readjusting to life post-deportation, or seeking to settle in Mexico, LGBTQ+ migrants here are at high risk of violence and harassment, being jailed for arbitrary reasons (such as not having proper identification or being in a bad neighborhood), extortion, kidnapping and forced labor.
Having a safe place to stay and a connection to further resources is a huge step for LGBTQ+ migrants’ security and well-being, and can make a life-changing difference during the difficult and vulnerable transitions they are in as they arrive to Tijuana.
Casa Arcoiris is proud to be the first shelter in Tijuana that attends the specific needs of the LGBTQ+ community, though the need for such a space is not new. Unfortunately, many other shelters here do not respect trans or non-binary gender identity, and/or are not able to create an environment that is safe and comfortable for LGBTQ+.
While the aid of volunteers from the United States has provided some relief to the unpredictable crisis that affect Tijuana, the activists that make up Casa Arcoiris identified a need to launch a long-term support effort comprised of people rooted in Tijuana, many who are migrants themselves and/or part of the LGBTQ+ community. Our project is one designed to last, with the capacity to adapt to the changing circumstances in Tijuana, even as international attention on the crisis here fades and volunteer support becomes less reliable. Attention and support come and go, but the need for safe space is a constant one, and Casa Arcoiris aims to meet that need in a consistent and sustainable way.