A Transgender Migrant Died in ICE Custody. Kamala Harris and New Mexico’s Senators Want an Explanati

Dec 6, 2018

Three U.S. senators want federal officials to publicly release information about the circumstances surrounding the death of a Honduran transgender migrant who was in the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Roxana Hernàndez, 33, died in May at an Albuquerque hospital where she was admitted after showing symptoms of pneumonia, dehydration and complications associated with HIV. The New Mexico Office of the Medical Investigator confirmed Thursday it has yet to complete an autopsy report.

Hernàndez arrived at the San Ysidro Port of Entry in the spring as part of a highly publicized caravan of Central American asylum seekers. Her death sparked protests, with immigrant and LGBTQ advocates saying her case underscores concerns that transgender migrants in detention facilities often do not receive adequate medical care.

California Sen. Kamala Harris, along with Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich of New Mexico sent a letter this week to top officials with ICE and U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

12 05 18 Roxana Hernandez Letter[1]

Source document contributed to DocumentCloud by David Marks (KQED ).

The three Democrats contend that federal officials are responsible for publishing an initial report within 30 days when someone dies while in custody and that a final report is due within two months.

“It has been over 180 days since Ms. Hernàndez was pronounced dead and no such report has been publicly released,” their letter states. “ICE’s failure to release this report diminishes the systemic, traumatic, and in this case fatal, violence that transgender individuals experience daily as a result of their gender identity.”

In Mexico Caravan, LGBTQ Migrants Stick Together for Safety

Federal officials have said previously they were awaiting the results of the state autopsy.

The senators also requested documentation on the training that officers, agents and contractors undergo related to the processing, care and safety of transgender detainees.

The request comes after an attorney representing Hernàndez’s family threatened to sue over claims she did not receive adequate medical care and was physically abused.

“Reports suggest that while she was held at the San Ysidro Port of Entry, Ms. Hernàndez endured freezing temperatures and was denied adequate food, water and medical care,” the senators’ letter states. “During her transport between facilities by ICE, she vomited to the extent other detainees begged authorities to provide her with water and proper medical care.”

Immigration authorities have maintained that Hernàndez wasn’t abused while in their custody.

Members of the LGTB community and Pro-Migrants NGO’s march in demand of justice for the death of Roxana Hernandez in downtown Tijuana, Mexico on June 06, 2018. (Guillermo Arias/AFP/Getty Images)

After arriving in the United States, Hernàndez was taken into custody in San Diego and later transferred to El Paso, Texas, before being taken to the Cibola County Detention Center in western New Mexico.

She was housed at the center’s transgender unit for a day before being admitted to a local hospital. She was then transferred to the Albuquerque hospital, where she died several days later.

Federal officials announced Hernàndez’s death May 25, saying she was the sixth detainee to die in custody since Oct. 1, 2017.

According to immigration authorities, Hernàndez illegally entered the United States twice between 2005 and 2009. She was allowed to return to Mexico each time because she claimed Mexican nationality when encountered by immigration officials.

In 2006 and 2009, she was convicted of theft, prostitution and other charges in two separate cases in Texas.

In 2014, Hernàndez illegally re-entered the U.S. a third time and was arrested and removed.

Copyright 2018 KQED. To see more, visit KQED.