Transgender Asylum Seeker Beaten Before Dying In ICE Custody
She left her native Honduras to escape transphobic violence.
Autopsy results show a Honduran transwoman was physically abused before she died while in ICE custody.
Roxsana Hernández Rodriguez died on May 25, nine days after she was transferred to New Mexico’s Cibola County Correctional Center and placed in a unit for transgender inmates, according to The Daily Beast. Forensic pathologist Kris Sperry believes Rodriguez died from “severe complications of dehydration superimposed upon HIV infection.”
Sperry also implied neglect contributed to Rodriguez’s death.
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“According to observations of other detainees who were with Ms. Hernández Rodriguez, the diarrhea and vomiting episodes persisted over multiple days with no medical evaluation or treatment, until she was gravely ill,” Sperry wrote in a report.
Sperry also noted injuries consistent with physical abuse on the 33-year-old’s corpse. Hernandez had “deep bruising” on her hands and abdomen consistent with “blows, and/or kicks, and possible strikes” with an object. She also had “extensive hemorrhaging” on her wrists that are “typical of handcuff injuries.”
Despite the findings, ICE spokeswoman Danielle Bennett denies any wrongdoing.
“U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) cannot speak to the validity of the private autopsy cited by The Daily Beast; however, allegations that she was abused in ICE custody are false. A review of Hernandez’s death conducted by ICE Health Service Corps medical professionals confirmed that she suffered from a history of untreated HIV. At no time did the medical personnel treating Ms. Hernandez at Cibola General Hospital or Lovelace Medical Center raise any issues of suspected physical abuse.
“ICE takes very seriously the health, safety and welfare of those in our care, including those who come into ICE custody with prior medical conditions or who have never before received appropriate medical care. Any death that happens in ICE custody is a cause for concern, and the agency will continue its full review of this case according to standard protocols.”
Amanda Gilchrist, director of public affairs for CoreCivic, the private company in charge of the prison, said they “take the health and well-beiing of those entrusted to our care very seriously.”
Rodriguez left Honduras in March to escape transphobic violence after members of the MS-13 gang-raped her.
"Four of them raped me, and as a result I got HIV," Hernandez told BuzzFeed. "Trans people in my neighborhood are killed and chopped into pieces, then dumped inside potato bags."
"I didn't want to come to Mexico — I wanted to stay in Honduras, but I couldn't. They kill trans people in Honduras. I'm scared of that."
She traveled over 2,000 miles with 1,300 other asylum seekers for six weeks. Rodriguez was detained on May 9 at the San Ysidro Port of Entry near San Diego.
Rodriguez’s family said she dreamed of owning a hair salon, reports The Washington Post.
“Roxsana Hernandez was our sister, and it was an injustice to have her die the way she did,” they said via their attorney, R. Andrew Free. “For us, her closest family, it’s been extremely painful to deal with. She left with dreams of opening a beauty salon and hopes of helping us out. She fled Honduras because here transgender people are discriminated against. She left with hopes of living a better life.”
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