A group of 47 migrants arrived in Nogales, Sonora from Tijuana on Tuesday night, potentially the first asylum-seekers to reach the city in connection with a caravan of Central American migrants that led the Trump Administration to deploy Army troops to the U.S.-Mexico border.
The migrants are members of the LGBT community, mostly from Honduras, who said they suffer violence and discrimination in their home countries and planned to request asylum in the United States, according to initial reports by El Imparcial and Diario de Sonora.
Both outlets reported that the migrants stayed Tuesday night at two hotels near the border where they were protected by local police. They met with City Manager Jorge Jáuregui Lewis shortly after their arrival and reportedly said that they had come from Tijuana.
Some of the asylum-seekers who arrived Tuesday night were taken by Cruz Roja ambulance to a local hospital for medical treatment and evaluation, El Imparcial and Diario de Sonora reported.
Marco Flores Lopez, a reporter with Diario de Sonora, told the NI on Wednesday morning that police providing security for the group said the migrants were not interested in speaking to the media. That afternoon, they were relocated to a shelter operated by the DIF family development agency.
Members of the thousands-strong caravan that sparked the military deployment began reaching Tijuana on the border with California last week. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, in San Diego on Tuesday, said there were 6,200 migrants already camped in Tijuana and another 3,000 in Mexicali, a few hours’ drive to the east, The Associated Press reported.
In Nogales, Ariz., CBP, with support from Army troops, has been “hardening” the local ports of entry against the caravan by installing concertina wire, blocking off vehicle lanes and staging riot police drills.
Asylum-seeking migrants from Central America – mostly families – have been a regular presence in Nogales, Sonora since this spring, and a small group of LGBT migrants came to the city in 2017 as part of the so-called Caravana Trans-gay Migrante in hopes of requesting asylum in the United States. However, Tuesday’s group arrived amid much anticipation and trepidation that large numbers of caravanning migrants would overwhelm the city and potentially cause problems at the U.S. ports of entry.
The Nogales, Sonora city government said in a news release issued Tuesday afternoon that it was working with local organizations to provide shelter, food and medical attention to arriving migrants.
“We are receiving at least 100 undocumented (migrants) daily, whether they have been deported by authorities in the United States or are trying to cross the border legally or illegally, and if they arrive in large volumes, we are prepared to welcome and help them,” Jáuregui said in the statement.
Five shelters were prepared to receive new migrants, in addition to two other facilities that would be used if necessary, the city said.
It wasn’t immediately clear if the migrants who arrived Tuesday night had rented the hotel rooms themselves, or if they had been put up there by the government or someone else. One of the hotels where they reportedly stayed before their relocation, the Fray Marcos, is owned by Mayor Jesús Antonio Pujol Irastorza.
It also wasn't clear if the group of 47 had been part of the larger migrant caravan now in Tijuana and Mexicali, or if they had perhaps been displaced there by the new arrivals.
Citing local officials, the Douglas Dispatch reported Wednesday that members of the migrant caravan had arrived in Agua Prieta, Sonora by bus over the weekend, where they were being housed in shelters and private homes. But while early reports said that about 700 migrants had arrived in the city, Douglas Mayor Robert Uribe said on Tuesday that the number was likely closer to 100 or less.
Jáuregui added in Tuesday’s statement that the Nogales, Sonora city government had enough food for two months of migrant assistance, but federal and state authorities were committed to providing more resources if needed.