Third lawsuit alleging wrongdoing by CoreCivic in recent weeks

Today Transgender Law Center (TLC), the Law Office of R. Andrew Free, and the Law Office of Daniel Yohalem announced that they have filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico against Management & Training Corporation, LaSalle Corrections Transport LLC, Global Precision Systems LLC, TransCor America LLC, and CoreCivic, Inc. The lawsuit alleges gross negligence leading to the death of Roxsana Hernandez, a Honduran transgender asylum-seeker living with HIV, while she was being transported from San Diego, California to Cibola, New Mexico.

“Every private entity tasked with Roxsana’s care failed her,” said Dale Melchert, TLC’s staff attorney. “What we know about the short time that Roxsana was in immigration custody is that the officers tasked with transporting her saw her health deteriorate, heard her cries for help, and did nothing. She needlessly suffered as a result of their inaction.”

Youngers v. MTC, et al alleges a failure on the part of named entities to provide adequate medical care, sufficient food, water, access to a restroom, and an opportunity to sleep even though Roxsana was visibly and symptomatically ill. Further, the defendants ignored the pleas of fellow asylum seekers who expressed concern for Roxsana’s condition. Notably, using Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, the plaintiffs claim that failure to provide medical care and safe transport to Roxsana amounted to discrimination against her as a person who was living with HIV and needed medical assistance during transport.

“CoreCivic, La Salle, and Management & Training Corporation, along with the other private companies named in our lawsuit receive federal funds in exchange for overseeing all the mechanisms that make our cruel system of immigration incarceration possible,” said Andrew Free. “Through our investigation into Roxsana’s death we’ve learned that these companies violated their federal agency contracts, their own standards of care, Roxsana’s rights, as well as the standards of care in the various states Roxsana travelled through. It’s horrifying that nearly two years after Roxsana’s death, they’re still receiving federal funds without any accountability for the many lives that have been lost on their watch.”

This is the third filing specifically alleging wrongdoing by CoreCivic in recent weeks. The ACLU filed a federal class action lawsuit naming CoreCivic and demanding that they ensure that the Central Arizona Florence Correctional Complex comply with public health guidelines to protect incarcerated people from COVID-19. Additionally, two detention officers at Otay Mesa Detention Center have filed lawsuits against CoreCivic for creating a dangerous workplace and failing to protect them from COVID-19.

In April, TLC, Ballard Spahr LLP, and the Rapid Defense Network filed a class action lawsuit demanding the release of all transgender people in civil immigration detention so that they may take precautions against the COVID-19 pandemic. The filing included testimony from trans migrants currently in immigration detention that make it clear that the abhorrent conditions that Roxsana was subjected to are still the norm.

“Everyone deserves to be cared for in a crisis,” said Umi Vera, Familia: Trans Queer Libration Movement’s Campaign and Organizing Director. “Roxsana came to the U.S. in search of safety and protection, and instead was met with cruelty and more violence by immigration enforcement. This year, in Roxsana’s memory we are uplifting, honoring and celebrating trans migrants by declaring Trans Migrants Day on May 31. Together we are advocating for a future in which all trans migrants are treated with dignity and respect, which means putting an end to immigration detention and abolishing ICE.”

Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement’s Week of Action for Trans Migrants will begin on May 25, exactly two years after Roxsana’s death.

Read the complaint below:

Download (PDF, 380KB)

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Transgender Law Center (TLC) is the largest national trans-led organization advocating self-determination for all people. 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.

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