New Autopsy Shows Transgender Asylum-Seeker Who Died in Ice Custody Was Beaten
Last May, Hernández was one of about 25 transgender, non-binary, and GNC Central American migrants who planned to cross the border and were seeking asylum in the United States due to the constant threat of violence and persecution in their home country due to their gender identity.
She was taken into custody after asking for asylum and was awaiting deportment as of May 9th. According to many advocacy groups, Hernández had been locked in a cell in a separate unit for transgender people at a men’s prison and was held under freezing temperatures. She was repeatedly denied access to medical care that she was forced to beg for, and was only able to see a doctor after days of vomiting and diarrhea. She died after finally being transferred to a Hosiptal in New Mexico. Her cause of death was determined to be dehydration, pneumonia and complications related to HIV
On Monday, the Transgender Law Center and the Law Office of Andrew R. Free, filed a wrongful death on suit behalf of Hernández’ family against ICE (Immigrants and Customs Enforcement) and other federal immigration agencies after an independent autopsy revealed that she had been beaten and denied proper medical treatment while she was in custody. The autopsy found "evidence of physical abuse," and that she had suffered from deep bruising on both sides of her chest and back and that they were "indicative of blows, and/or kicks, and possible strikes with [a] blunt object." Though the injuries weren’t visible externally, she also had deep soft tissue bruising on her wrists, which are "typical of handcuff injuries."
“An independent autopsy report reveals that Roxsana was shackled for a long time and very tightly, enough to cause deep bruising on her wrists,” said Lynly Egyes, TLC’s Director of Litigation in a statement on their website. “She also had deep bruising injuries consistent with physical abuse with a baton or asp while she was handcuffed, according to an examination of the tissue by an independent expert board-certified forensic pathologist. In the final days of her life, she was transferred from California to Washington to New Mexico, shackled for days on end. If she was lucky, she was given a bottle of water to drink. Her cause of death was dehydration and complications related to HIV. Her death was entirely preventable.”
Roxsana’s sisters shared the following statement with the Transgender Law Center:
“Roxsana Hernandez was our sister and it was an injustice to have her die the way she did. They cut her life short and she was not able to fulfill her dreams. For us, her closest family, it’s been extremely painful to deal with. She left with dreams of opening a beauty salon and hopes of helping us out. She fled Honduras because here transgender people are discriminated against. She left with hopes of living a better life. It has not been easy for us to accept that she is gone, we were very close. It’s difficult to accept that she was taken from us because of negligence, because of not giving her support and medication that she needed, because they treated her like an animal. It’s not fair. It’s not fair that she fled Honduras looking for a better life and instead she was murdered. Now all we have left with is the hope that we can see justice for her. Justice for Roxsana.”