When hundreds of Central Americans came together so they could safely travel to the United State and Mexico as part of a caravan, Roxsana Hernández was one of a few transgender women fleeing persecution in Honduras. She arrived at the US border in early May, but weeks later she died in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) from what’s been reported as a cardiac arrest because of HIV-related complications. Her death has sparked outrage among immigration rights activists, with people calling for justice for Roxsana and the end of ICE. As those online make sure her story isn’t forgotten, a new GoFundMe campaign aims to alleviate the funeral costs for her family.
“Roxsana Hernández was 33 years old when she died while in custody,” the page reads. “She was seeking asylum in hopes of finding refuge and safety in the US, but instead, she was detained by Customs [and] Border Protection (CBP) before being transferred to Immigration [and] Customs Enforcement (ICE) and then passed away in a New Mexico hospital.”
The campaign seeks to raise $15,000 to return the body back to Honduras and to help Roxsana’s sisters.
But as we signal boost this important fundraiser (you can donate to the campaign here), it’s also necessary to draw attention to the inadequate conditions that ICE and other agencies subject undocumented immigrants to. ICE reports that Roxsana is the sixth person to die in its custody since October. After she crossed the border through the SAn Ysidro port of entry, she was moved to the transgender unit of Cibola County Correctional Center. The next day, she was hospitalized for pneumonia, dehydration, and other HIV-related complications. Eight days later, she died.
The circumstances surrounding her death are why the Transgender Law Center calls ICE’s treatment of Roxsana “negligent.”
“If you have an incoming immigrant that shows signs of medical distress – including being HIV positive and having pneumonia – it is negligent to place them in an ‘ice box’ for any amount of time,” Flor Bermudez, the legal director of the group, told The Guardian. “They might have wrongfully caused her death.”