Is Asylum Different?

Relationship: Im/migrant
Photo by Beatrice Murch
Photo by Beatrice Murch

Jacque Larraínzar was a LGBT activist in Mexico. She fled to the US after she was arrested and people she worked with were killed.  “When I got here in ‘94, I applied for political asylum. It’s the first time that the United States allowed people to apply for asylum based on their gender identity, and so I became the first lesbian to gain political asylum from Mexico.  They found that… right after I left [Mexico], from ‘94 to ‘99, about 800 LGBT activists had been murdered and nobody ever did anything to find out who, why – there was no legal process, nothing. When we started looking at who those people were, I knew all those people. So when I went for my asylum interview, [it] just took every single ounce of me to just stay centered and be able to talk to this guy, because he brought out a list of names and he started asking me, ‘Do you know this person, do you know this person,’ and they were all friends of my friends… and all of them were dead. I left the room and I literally passed out (laughter) because all of sudden I realized how lucky I was to be alive…  I made peace with [the fact that I can’t go back] because I realize that after what I went through and what I knew, that I really don’t want to go back to the place where all those horrible things have happened.” – Jacque Larraínzar 

Place(s): Seattle; Mexico
Year: 1994

– Voices of the Immigration Station, Wing Luke Museum

Relationship:  Im/migrant Im/migrant