TDoR 2018 / 2018 / May / 13 / Roxsana Hernández Rodriguez

Roxsana Hernández Rodriguez

Age 33

13 May 2018
Milan, New Mexico (USA)
Died in custody

TDoR list ref: tgeu/13-May-2018/Roxana Hernández

Roxsana Hernández Rodriguez
Roxsana Hernández Rodriguez [photo:]

Roxsana died from dehydration 9 days after being taken into custody by US Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE).

She was a refugee from Honduras, and had fled to the USA after threats from MS-13.

Hernández Rodriguez had told Buzzfeed, months before her death, "she was walking home when MS-13 gang members started screaming 'We don't want you in this neighborhood, you fucking faggot' at her before gang-raping her."

"Four of them raped me and as a result I got HIV," Hernandez told BuzzFeed News. "Trans people in my neighborhood are killed and chopped into pieces, then dumped inside potato bags."

She was being held at the privately run Cibola Correctional Facility in Milan, New Mexico. An inquest found that her death occurred after medical treatment was withheld, and that she was most likely beaten while in ICE custody.

The private prison facility at the Cibola County Correctional Center in New Mexico is operated by CoreCivic, the second-largest private prison company in the U.S. CoreCivic, co-founded by a former GOP chairman, operates more than 65 facilities and has come under fire for poor staffing and extensive lobbying efforts.

"There she developed severe diarrhea and vomiting over the course of several days," the autopsy states, "and finally was emergently hospitalized, then transported to Lovelace Medical Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where she remained critically ill until her death."

"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," forensic pathologist Kris Sperry wrote.

The autopsy "also found evidence of physical abuse, with 'deep bruising' on her hands and abdomen, evidence of blunt-force trauma 'indicative of blows, and/or kicks, and possible strikes with blunt object.' An accompanying diagram illustrated long, thin bruises along Hernández Rodriguez’s back and sides, as well as extensive hemorrhaging on Hernández Rodriguez’s right and left wrists, which Dr. Sperry found were 'typical of handcuff injuries.'"

It has been repeatedly reported that asylum seekers at the border are held in freezing holding cells (often referred to as "hieleras") for days. Cibola is a facility for male inmates, which also suggests abusive behaviour by the authorities.

"Paired with the abuse we know transgender people regularly suffer in ICE detention, the death of Ms. Hernández sends the message that transgender people are disposable and do not deserve dignity, safety, or even life," said Isa Noyola, Deputy Director at Transgender Law Center.

"It is alarming that transgender communities continue to face transphobic violence outside and inside of detention walls," says Flor Bermudez, Legal Director at Transgender Law Center. "This is why TLC's Trans Immigrant Defense Effort (TIDE) has organized to demand the liberation of transgender women from detention and the end of all detention and deportations. ICE has shown time and again it is incapable of protecting transgender women in detention. Transgender people should not be detained by ICE, at all."

"We have been demanding the release of our trans communities detained in ICE detention centers because of rampant physical and brutal treatment from guards and other detainees," said Jorge Gutiérrez, Executive Director of Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement.

"At a time when we are grieving the murders of transgender women of color, and the murder of 20 year-old Claudia Patricia Gómez Gonzalez by Border Patrol at the Texas-Mexico border, it is unconscionable that a transgender woman would die in the hands of ICE at the Cibola trans pod in immigration detention. The community, now more than ever, needs to organize to protect our most vulnerable, in particular transgender immigrant women who are surrounded by violence on a daily basis," added Anandrea Molina, President of Organización Latina de Trans en Texas.

Transgender immigrants often seek asylum, withholding of removal or protection under the Convention Against Torture because of violence, rape and torture they have experienced in their countries of origin due to their gender identity or expression. However, once inside the United States, transgender immigrants may often face similar risks, as well as criminalization, as they are targeted and harassed by police or held in detention where they experience violence, discrimination, and an inability to access to medical care, all of which may lead to dire consequences.

Subsequently it emerged that ICE had illegally deleted surveillance footage and other evidence.

Phoenix (AZ) - The Transgender Law Center (TLC) organization filed a lawsuit on Wednesday for the alleged removal of a surveillance video and other evidence on the case of the undocumented transgender Roxsana Hernández Rodríguez , who died in ICE custody at a facility in New Mexico detention .

The 33-year-old Honduran died nine days after being transferred to a unit dedicated to transgender women at the Cibola County Correctional Center in New Mexico, which is operated by CoreCivic, the country's second largest private prison company.

Anna Castro, a spokesman for Transgender Law Center (TLC), told Efe that the lawsuit is against CoreCivic, "and not only for the video, but for all the evidence that may have a connection with Roxsana during the time she remained in Cibola."

The organization and lawyers say that, by federal rule, ICE must preserve material that can serve as evidence, including electronic recordings.

The Advocate and Transgender Law Center, 29.05.2018

Report added: 1 Sep 2018. Last updated: 8 Oct 2022

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