Transgender Woman Dies In ICE Custody


Last May Roxsana Hernandez Rodriguez, a transgender woman, died in custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency due to severe dehydration along with complications due to H.I.V. Hernandez, 33, joined a Honduran caravan seeking asylum in the United States. According to ICE, Hernandez crossed the border at San Ysidro port of entry between San Diego and Tijuana.

She was H.I.V. positive when she presented herself at San Ysidro port of entry. There Hernandez was taken to Cibola County Correctional Center in New Mexico, where she was placed in the transgender unit. Over the course of several days, Hernandez developed severe diarrhea and vomiting due to dehydration according to forensic pathologist Dr. Kris Sperry. Sperry reports that Hernandez was admitted into a local hospital in Cibola, then transferred to Lovelace Medical Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico where she died in intensive care. Her death was most likely due to “complications from dehydration, superimposed upon HIV infection.”

The autopsy was performed by Sperry, who was hired by the Transgender Law Center, who is suing ICE for Hernandez’ death. The autopsy showed that while there wasn’t any evidence of bruising on her skin, there was deep hemorrhaging of the soft tissues and muscles over her ribs. At a news conference, Lynly Egyes, the Transgender Law Center’s director of litigation said, “Her death was entirely preventable. 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 from H.I.V.”

In a statement, Danielle Bennett, a spokeswoman for ICE said, “U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement cannot speak to the validity of the private autopsy. However, allegations that she was abused in ICE custody are false.”

Cibola County Correctional Center is a privately owned minimum-security prison for men. The prison is managed by CoreCivic. CoreCivic manages and owns private prisons and detention centers and operates others on a concession basis. Last year, CoreCivic made a profit of over $1.8 billion. As of 2016, it is the second largest private corrections company in the United States.