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A Transgender Asylum Seeker Was Reportedly Beaten in ICE Custody

Roxsana Hernández Rodriguez traveled roughly 2,000 miles for asylum in the U.S., and died after just 24 days in the hands of ICE.

In her asylum bid, 33-year-old Roxsana Hernández Rodriguez said that she survived a gang-rape at the hands of four members of the international gang MS-13. She then took a harrowing six-week, 2,000 mile journey to the San Ysidro Port of Entry to the U.S., where she was hoping to find refuge — but instead, was later found dead in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers. An autopsy would later determine that Hernández Rodriguez suffered from "days of severe, untreated dehydration." And according to a recent report by The Daily Beast, she was likely physically abused by ICE at the detention center where she was held.

News outlets first reported Hernández Rodriguez’s death in May, nine days after she was transferred to a dedicated transgender women’s unit at Cibola County Correctional Center. That facility runs under an operational contract with the country’s second-largest private prison company, CoreCivic. While initial reports from ICE cited cardiac arrest as the cause of death, forensic pathologist Dr. Kris Sperry, who conducted a second autopsy on Hernández Rodriguez, she “developed severe diarrhea and vomiting over the course of several days” at the private detention center. She was hospitalized and sent to Lovelace Medical Center in Albuquerque, where she remained in critical condition until her death.

“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,” Dr. Sperry wrote. She concluded the lack of treatment likely resulted in Hernández Rodriguez’s death from “severe complications of dehydration superimposed upon HIV infection.” Hernández Rodriguez seroconverted after being raped in Honduras.

The autopsy also found she had been beaten shortly before her death. Dr. Sperry uncovered “deep bruising” on her hands and abdomen, evidence of wounds “indicative of blows, and/or kicks, and possible strikes with blunt object.” Results also indicated hemorrhaging on her wrists, “typical of handcuff injuries,” and slim, lengthy bruises on her back and sides — possibly from a baton or similar weapon.

Hernández Rodriguez didn’t want to come to the U.S., she told BuzzFeed News in May, but felt like she had no other choice.

"Trans people in my neighborhood are killed and chopped into pieces, then dumped inside potato bags," she said. “… I wanted to stay in Honduras, but I couldn’t.”

As of Nov. 20, the Trump administration has been forced by a federal judge to accept asylum seekers at the border. Over the weekend, Border Patrol launched canisters of tear gas over the border in Tijuana, gassing the migrants on the southern side — including children.

Related | 7 Ways Cis People Can Support the Trans and GNC Community

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