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Trans Asylum Seeker Dies in ICE Custody on First Day of Pride Month

Johana Medina of El Salvador is the second transgender woman migrant to die in ICE custody since Donald Trump took office.

Johana Medina, an asylum seeker and nurse from El Salvador, was 25.

Johana Medina, a 25-year-old trans woman and nurse from El Salvador, died at Del Sol Medical Center in El Paso, Texas, on Saturday. She is the second trans immigrant to die in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement since President Donald Trump took office, ThinkProgress reports.

Medina's death was announced by Grecia, a trans advocate with the Juarez-based Casa Migrante, in a press release posted to Diversidad Sin Fronteras' Facebook page on Saturday. Grecia says that Medina "pleaded" for medical help "for weeks," but officials at the privately run ICE detention center in New Mexico where she was held since mid-April allegedly to no avail.

"After two months of suffering, Johana became extremely ill and unconscious," Grecia's release reads. "This morning I went to visit her at the hospital intensive care unit. When I looked at her I said that what happened a year ago to [Roxsana Hernandez, a Honduran trans woman who died in ICE custody last year,] could happen to Joa right in there. And it did."

Medina was one of at least four trans women detained at Otero County Detention Center, The Washington Postreports. Nathan Craig, a member of Advocate Visitors with Immigrants in Detention (AVID), told the Post that he has been in communication with two of those four trans women detainees. While he never spoke with Medina directly, the women he has spoken with have frequently complained about conditions at the facility. According to one of the women he spoke with on May 24, all four of the trans women detainees were sick and had not been given access to adequate medical care. Corey A. Price, a field office director for ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations in El Paso dismissed Medina's death as an "unfortunate example of an individual who illegally enters the United States with an untreated, unscreened medical condition" in a statement to NBC News.

"ICE's practices at Otero have created an unsafe environment for transgender women and gay men who are detained there," wrote the American Civil Liberties Union and other groups in a letter to ICE following Hernandez's 2018 death.

RELATED | Family Members of Trans Asylum Seeker Renew Calls to Hold ICE Accountable Following Autopsy Report

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