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  HOME | Latin America (Click here for more)

US Becomes Refuge of Fearful LGBT Latin Americans Fleeing Their Homelands

LOS ANGELES – A Mexican transgender woman who emigrated to the United States out of fear of losing her life and who was granted political asylum this summer is a clear example of why members of the LGBT Latin American community so often seek peace and safety here.

Eduardo Marin was the name of Victoria Murillo when in 2006 he slipped into the US undocumented to escape the harassment he was subjected to by men and even by his own father.

The fear of being lynched was constant, she said in an interview with EFE, recounting the terrible death of her uncle Juan Medrano, who was tortured and forced to swallow acid for being gay.

“Practically all of his large intestine was burned away. He was hospitalized for several days in Guadalajara, where he died,” Murillo, 31, said.

Victoria said she fled for fear that she would be next, and because her parents could be severely hurt, either because of her death or for the psychological effects her wished-for transformation from man to woman would cause them.

The process began with female hormones and breast implants in the US, followed by her marriage to US citizen Hugo Murillo in 2013.

A year later, a gay former classmate, 25-year-old Luis Sanchez, was murdered.

“He had his throat cut, he was stabbed several times and his body was dumped on a vacant lot. Really terrifying,” the woman said.

In 2016 she sought legal aid and contacted attorney Eric Price, who judged that in her case, with a previous detention by US authorities on her record, it would be best to request political asylum because of credible fear.

With newspaper clippings of murder victims she had known, she showed immigration officials the reason for her terror at the thought of being deported to Mexico.

Thanks to that procedure, Murillo’s asylum application was approved this summer along with a work permit, and in 2019 she will initiate the process to obtain permanent residency, to be followed later by citizenship.

“I feel more protected now that I’ve obtained political asylum,” Victoria said.

Hugo Murillo told EFE that despite being a US citizen, he has the same fear as undocumented immigrants because, with the current immigration policies, his wife could be deported back to Mexico at any time.

According to the NGO Letra S, in Mexico there were 95 homicides against the LGBT community in 2017, which places that country second only to Brazil in Latin America for that kind of violence.

 

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