A 33-year-old transgender woman from Honduras has become the sixth person who has died in the custody of ICE (Immigrants and Customs Enforcement) since October 2017.
Roxana Hernandez passed away on Friday at a hospital in Albuquerque, New Mexico, due to what immigrant advocacy groups are claiming was “medical negligence by immigration officials.”
She was one of about 25 transgender, non-binary, and GNC people who joined a caravan of Central American migrants who planned to cross the border in the US due to the constant threat of violence and persecution in their home country due to their gender identity.
In an interview with BuzzFeed before she left, Hernandez said she contracted HIV after being gang-raped while walking to her home in Mexico. She said she has tried to cross the border illegally at least three times before.
Hernandez was taken into custody after asking for asylum and was awaiting deportment as of May 9th. Advocacy groups say she had been locked in a cell in a separate unit for transgender people at a men’s prison. Prisoners there have the lights on 24/7, and are held under freezing temperatures (which has earned these detention facilities the nickname, “the ice-box”).
Within the first week in an ICE detention facility, her health began to rapidly deteriorate. According to a statement from ICE, she was hospitalized for “dehydration, pneumonia, and other HIV-related complications.” ICE continues in this statement to note that “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.”
An autopsy to determine cause of death is pending.