Trans Asylum-Seeker Beaten Before Death

Roxsana Hernández Rodriguez’s body was found with signs of extensive hemorrhaging and contusions after her death in Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody.

The 33-year-old trans woman fell ill and died on May 25 while in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and may very likely have been beaten prior to her death according to an independent autopsy.

The Washington Post reported that the autopsy showed signs of extensive hemorrhaging around her wrists consistent with handcuff injuries as well as bruises and contusions typical of blunt force trauma.

“[Roxsana] journeyed thousands of miles fleeing persecution and torture at home only to be met with neglect and torture in this country’s for-profit human cages.”  — Andrew Free, Rodriguez’ family lawyer

Rodriguez’s family commissioned the independent autopsy.

She was fleeing transphobic persecution in her home country of Honduras and had survived a gang rape, all of which motivated her to return to the U.S. even after three prior deportations.

“Trans people in my neighborhood are killed and chopped into pieces, then dumped inside potato bags. I didn’t want to come to Mexico — I wanted to stay in Honduras but I couldn’t… They kill trans people in Honduras. I’m scared of that.”  — Rodriguez

Her death, the Transgender Law Center argues, was preventable.

The autopsy concluded that while she very likely experienced physical assault during her detention, she ultimately died of severe dehydration, the symptoms of which were badly exacerbated by HIV, for which Rodriguez had tested positive following the gang rape.

Rodriguez was neglected for days as she experienced diarrhea and vomiting before receiving medical attention, according to forensic pathologist Kris Sperry, who conducted the autopsy.

 “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

Based on additional interviews with other witnesses, Free believes Rodriguez most likely sustained the abuse during her time at the Cibola County Correctional Center in New Mexico, a private prison run by CoreCivic — the second largest such company in the U.S.

Although ICE is required to release a detainee death report within 60 days of the death of an individual in its custody, no such report has been filed despite the fact that more than 180 days have passed since Rodriguez’s death.

“People need to know that she died of dehydration. People need to know that her death was preventable.”  — Lynly Egyes, director of litigation for the Transgender Law Center

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