#JusticeforRoxsana: Autopsy Reveals Trans Woman Likely Beaten Before Dying in ICE Custody

Lead Photo: Creative Commons by torbakhopper is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Creative Commons by torbakhopper is licensed under CC BY 2.0
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Roxsana Hernández came to the United States for a better life. The Honduras-born trans woman hoped to open a salon in the US and to help her loved ones back home. Instead, she was caught up in our broken immigration system, which routinely mistreats undocumented immigrants, particularly trans individuals. Roxsana, who sought asylum in the US, died six months ago in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody, and on Monday, an independent autopsy revealed that she was likely beaten at the privately owned center where she was held and that she died after severe, untreated dehydration. Now, people are once again using #JusticeforRoxsana to call for justice.

Initially, ICE claimed that Roxsana, who came as part of a caravan earlier this year, died of symptoms of pneumonia and dehydration and HIV-related complications, but the autopsy provides a clearer picture of the way ICE treats undocumented immigrants. Her death came nine days after she was transferred to Cibola County Correctional Center, a New Mexico-based immigration jail run by CoreCivic, according to Splinter.

On Monday, Roxsana’s lawyer, Andrew Free, and the Transgender Law Center filed notice of wrongful death tort claim. The document states, “Ms. Hernandez endured physical assault and abuse while in custody. Specifically, forensic evidence indicates she was handcuffed so tightly as to cause deep tissue bruising and struck repeatedly on the back and rib cage by an asp or similar instrument while her hands were restrained behind her back.”

Forensic pathologist Kris Sperry wrote that at Cibola, she “developed severe diarrhea and vomiting over the course of several days.” Other detainees have said that facility officials neglected to provide medical assistance.

“According to observations of other detainees who were with Ms. Hernández Rodriguez, the diarrhea and vomiting episodes persisted over multiple days with no medical evaluation or treatment, until she was gravely ill,” Sperry wrote.

On social media, people have begun using the hashtag #JusticeforRoxsana to call for Cibola County Correctional Center to be held accountable for what happened in May.