Transgender woman in migrant caravan dies in ICE custody

A transgender woman who traveled to the United States in a migrant caravan through Mexico has died while in the custo...

Posted: May 31, 2018 9:44 AM
Updated: May 31, 2018 9:44 AM

A transgender woman who traveled to the United States in a migrant caravan through Mexico has died while in the custody of immigration officials.

Roxana Hernandez, 33, of Honduras died Friday at a hospital in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She died from what appeared to be cardiac arrest, according to US Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials.

Hernandez was one of roughly 25 transgender and gender nonconforming individuals who joined the Central American migrant caravan in April.

She arrived at the San Ysidro, California, port of entry near San Diego on May 9 to seek asylum, according to ICE and Pueblo Sin Fronteras, which organized and guided the caravan.

She had been in custody for about two weeks, waiting to be deported, when she died.

Declining health

Several immigrant advocacy groups claim Hernandez died due to medical negligence by immigration officials.

"During her first week in the United States, Roxy's body and spirit quickly deteriorated. Why incarcerate and torture her like this?," a joint-statement by groups Pueblo Sin Fronteras, Diversidad Sin Fronteras and Al Otro Lado said.

Soon after asking for asylum, Hernandez was initially held at a detention center by US Customs and Border Protection.

She was cold, lacked adequate food or medical care, and was held in a cell with the lights turned on 24 hours a day, the groups said. They called the detention center an "ice box."

A week later, ICE says she arrived at the transgender unit in the Cibola County Correctional Center in Milan, New Mexico -- a privately run federal prison for men that contracts with ICE.

But by the next day, she was taken to a local hospital with symptoms of pneumonia, dehydration and "complications associated with HIV," ICE says. Hours later, she was transferred to hospital in Albuquerque where "she remained in the intensive care unit until her passing," the agency said.

"Paired with the abuse we know transgender people regularly suffer in ICE detention, the death of Ms. Hern-ndez 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.

In a statement about Hernandez's death, ICE noted that comprehensive medical care is provided to migrants from the moment they arrive and throughout their stay.

"All ICE detainees receive medical, dental and mental health intake screening within 12 hours of arriving at each detention facility, a full health assessment within 14 days of entering ICE custody or arrival at a facility, and access to daily sick call and 24-hour emergency care," it states.

An autopsy to determine her cause of death is pending.

Hernandez is the sixth person to die while in ICE custody since October, according to ICE.

Fleeing violence

Hernandez left her native country of Honduras to flee the "violence, hate, stigma, and vulnerability" she suffered as a transgender woman, Pueblo Sin Fronteras said.

"She saw in the United States the opportunity to start new life free of abuse, risk, and threats, by seeking asylum," the organizations said.

Hernandez had crossed the US border at least three times before. She entered the country illegally twice between 2005 and 2009, and was granted voluntarily return to Mexico after claiming she was Mexican, ICE said. In 2014, Hernandez entered the US for a third time and was deported shortly after, according to ICE.

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 117215

Reported Deaths: 4305
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Los Angeles572192448
Riverside8155342
San Diego7554269
Orange6574150
San Bernardino5501208
Alameda351597
Santa Clara2819143
San Francisco258743
Kern237639
San Mateo218884
Tulare200489
Fresno188236
Imperial179829
Santa Barbara166912
Contra Costa150637
Sacramento143958
Ventura116434
Kings11375
San Joaquin98235
Stanislaus75029
Monterey57110
Sonoma5664
Solano54622
Marin50115
Merced3017
San Luis Obispo2781
Placer2289
Santa Cruz2172
Yolo21324
Madera1143
Napa1133
Humboldt1023
El Dorado960
San Benito882
Butte511
Sutter462
Del Norte460
Nevada421
Shasta394
Mono371
Mendocino300
Yuba301
Lake260
Inyo201
Glenn170
Mariposa161
Calaveras150
Amador100
Siskiyou80
Colusa70
Lassen50
Tehama51
Plumas40
Tuolumne40
Alpine20
Sierra10
Trinity10
Unassigned00
Chico
Clear
81° wxIcon
Hi: 97° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 81°
Oroville
Clear
78° wxIcon
Hi: 97° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 79°
Paradise
Clear
81° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 81°
Chester
Clear
63° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 52°
Feels Like: 63°
Red Bluff
Clear
78° wxIcon
Hi: 97° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 79°
Willows
Clear
81° wxIcon
Hi: 99° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 81°
The Heat Advisory will stay in place through Thursday evening. Cooler temperatures and the potential for active weather is on the way as we head into your weekend.
KHSL Severe
KHSL Radar
KHSL Temperatures

Community Events