Transgender Woman Dies While in ICE Custody

Danielle Romanelli   Assistant Editor

On May 25, Roxsana Hernandez Rodriguez died from illness after being held in custody by Immigration and Customs Enforcement for 16 days. Rodriguez was a 33-year-old transgender woman who was seeking asylum due to the discrimination she faced in her native country, Honduras. However, recently, reports have been released that say, based on her autopsy, it is suspected that she was possibly beaten in federal custody to the maximum extent. Not only did the autopsy reveal “deep bruising” and “contusions” on her body, but also hemorrhaging on her wrists, an injury which is suspected to have been caused by handcuffs.

Even though Rodriguez showed signs of abuse, these were not the ultimate cause of her death. Rather, it was severe dehydration. Lynly Egyes, the director of litigation for the Transgender Law Center, wants everyone to know that she died this way, and also wants people to know that her death was completely preventable. After arriving at San Ysidro Port of Entry (United States-Mexico border), she was moved to Cibola County Correctional Center and placed in a transgender unit where she became very ill. Days after her illness began, she was moved to Albuquerque’s Lovelace Medical Center, where she died in the Intensive Care Unit. It was reported that she was severely ill and should have been moved to the hospital much earlier.

Ultimately, it is suspected that she received the abuse when she was moved to Cibola County Correctional Center, as the abuse would have been noticed very quickly at the Port of Entry or the hospital.

It is disgusting how this woman was treated. In her home country, she faced violence and discrimination everyday based on her gender, and as a result, was gang-raped and contracted HIV. She was terrified for her life in Honduras, and that is why she fled. I think everyone should feel safe to show who they are, as long as they are not hurting or harming anyone else. Although America is not perfect in any means, hearing about the struggles that transgender people face in other countries highlights the possibilities that America offers due to the waves of support for human rights that are displayed from the majority of Americans.

In regards to the beating, this issue should be concerning to everyone, not just a transgender people or members of the LGBTQ+ community. ICE needs to put more focus on the people that are in their custody, and treat them as human beings rather than things waiting to be moved. It is common that transgender individuals receive abuse in these holding centers, but a lot of other people suffer the same abuse, making it an overall issue that impacts everyone who seeks asylum. At of the time of her death, she was the sixth person in seven months to die while in custody of ICE. Changes need to be made to help not only transgender individuals, but all individuals, so that they can remain safe while attempting to legally come to America.

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