A transgender woman seeking U.S. asylum
died Friday in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement
The 33-year-old Honduran woman,
identified by advocates as Roxana Hernandez (also spelled Roxanna and
Roxsana in other reports), traveled more than 2,000 miles with the
caravan of Central American migrants.
According to The
Arizona Republic, Hernandez was being held in the transgender
unit at the Cibola County Detention Center in Milan, New Mexico. She
was transferred to Cibola General Hospital then airlifted to Lovelace
Medical Center in Albuquerque. ICE officials said that Hernandez was
suffering from complications related to HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
A preliminary cause of death is cardiac arrest.
LGBT activists called on ICE to conduct
a thorough investigation into her death.
“We are deeply saddened and troubled
by the passing of Roxsana Hernandez, and we call on ICE to conduct a
thorough investigation into her death,” said Human Rights Campaign
(HRC) President Chad Griffin in a statement. “LGBTQ migrants,
especially transgender women, face higher rates of abuse in
immigration detention facilities. Hernandez’s death raises serious
questions regarding the treatment she received while in ICE custody,
and we expect ICE to provide answers to those questions. As HRC
mourns the loss of Roxsana Hernandez, we continue to stand in
solidarity with those seeking asylum from violence and prosecution in
their home countries.”
Flor Bermudez, legal director at the
Transgender Law Center, said that the incident showed that ICE “is
incapable of protecting transgender women in detention” and that
“transgender people should not be detained by ICE at all.”
“It is alarming that transgender
communities continue to face transphobic violence outside and inside
of detention walls,” Bermudez said.