LGBTQ migrants gather in D.C. two days before anniversary of Roxsana Hernandez’s death in ICE custody
(Washington, D.C.) – Today, formerly detained transgender migrants and advocates for the community met with members of Congress and their staff to shine a light on the unique challenges trans and Black LGBTQ migrants face.
“The stakes could not be higher for the migrant community in the U.S., and particularly Black and LGBTQ+ migrants, who exist at the crosshairs of the Trump administration’s attacks,” said Ola Osaze, director of the Black LGBTQIA+ Migrant Project (BLMP) at Transgender Law Center. “In part because of U.S. actions, so many of us are forced to flee our homes only to face years of inhumane – and sometimes fatal – conditions in immigration detention.”
The congressional briefing, which reviewed a wide range of topics from factors pushing LGBTQ migrants out of their homes to survival in the U.S. after detention, was organized by Congressman Kennedy, Congresswoman Bass, Congresswoman Jayapal, the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus, Black LGBTQIA+ Migrant Project (BLMP), Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement, and Transgender Law Center (TLC).
“Life in detention breeds a kind of despair I can describe, but that you’ll hopefully never know,” Christina Lopez, a transgender woman who was recently released after several years in the same migrant prison where Roxsana was held, shared at the briefing. “Our lives were in someone else’s hands, someone who treated us like animals or experiments. Many of the women in Cibola with me had never experienced being incarcerated under these cruel and humiliating conditions. They had fled abuse and violence, and when they reacted out of trauma and desperation, they were thrown in solitary. After more than four years in detention, my life is finally my own again, but I worry every day about the women I left behind.”
Congressman Joe Kennedy III added, “A year after Roxsana Hernandez died while in the custody of the American government, the same dangerous prejudice and neglect that led to her death exists today. As this Administration attempts to match the cruelty and inhumanity that drives asylum seekers and refugees to our shores and our borders, we cannot forget that our nation’s darkest days have always been defined by a government willing to turn its back on the vulnerable and marginalized. After today’s event, we can continue to amplify the voices and ideas of advocates and migrants who deeply, personally understand the entire journey for LGBTQ migrants and what reforms must be made to protect them.”
Several LGBTQ organizations hosted a press conference after the briefing to call for an end to detention and to commemorate Roxsana Hernandez, a transgender woman from Honduras who died in ICE custody on May 25th last year. Speakers included representatives from the Human Rights Campaign, Center for American Progress, National Center for Transgender Equality, and Lambda Legal, along with Familia, TLC, and BLMP. Transgender Law Center and the Law Office of R. Andrew Free have launched a legal case to hold all agencies responsible for Roxsana’s death accountable. Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement has planned rallies and demonstrations around the country for next week as part of a national week of action seeking justice for Roxsana.
“Roxsana left Honduras seeking a better future, where she could be her full self but instead found death,” said Jennicet Gutierrez, national community organizer and advocate for Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement. “Familia members are organizing actions across the country, including in New York City, New Orleans, and Sacramento because we demand accountability from all of the agencies that had a potential role in her death. We won’t stop until we see justice for Roxsana.”
Transgender Law Center (TLC) is the largest national trans-led organization advocating for a world in which all people are free to define themselves and their futures. Grounded in legal expertise and committed to racial justice, TLC employs a variety of community-driven strategies to keep transgender and gender nonconforming people alive, thriving, and fighting for liberation. transgenderlawcenter.org