News (USA)

A trans asylum seeker was beaten & died of severe dehydration in ICE custody

Roxsana Hernández Rodriguez
Roxsana Hernández Rodriguez Photo: Transgender Law Center

Roxsana Hernández Rodriguez was looking for a better life when she came to America seeking asylum. She was fleeing brutality in her native Honduras but died at the hands of the for-profit prison industry who held her captive since her arrival.

She was being held in an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facility in New Mexico operated by the second-largest private prison company in the United States, CoreCivic.

“Trans people in my neighborhood are killed and chopped into pieces, then dumped inside potato bags,” Hernández Rodriguez said in an interview with Buzzfeed News a month before her death. “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.”

Hernández Rodriguez told the outlet that she was gang raped by four members of the gang MS-13 and contracted HIV during the attack.

“She journeyed thousands of miles fleeing persecution and torture at home only to be met with neglect and torture in this country’s for-profit human cages,” Andrew Free, an attorney representing her family, told The Daily Beast.

Autopsy results have shown that Hernández Rodriguez died of severe untreated dehydration and was beaten before she passed.

When she was hospitalized, she was admitted with “symptoms of pneumonia, dehydration and complications associated with HIV” according to ICE. A spokesperson said that “comprehensive medical care is provided from the moment detainees arrive and throughout the entirety of their stay.”

“[S]he developed severe diarrhea and vomiting over the course of several days,” forensic pathologist Kris Sperry wrote in the autopsy report, “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.”

The autopsy also found signs that Hernández Rodriguez had been beaten while in custody.

“Deep bruising” was found on her hands and abdomen “indicative of blows, and/or kicks, and possible strikes with blunt object.” An accompanying diagram showed several thin long bruises along Hernández Rodriguez’s back and sides as if she was hit with a baton.

She also had “extensive hemorrhaging” on her wrists “typical of handcuff injuries” according to the report.

Hernández Rodriguez traveled over 2000 miles to America over six weeks seeking asylum and safety. She was taken into immediate custody when she arrived at the border.

Less than three weeks after surviving the journey and arriving in America, she was dead.

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