ICE, CBP, and DHS employees failed Roxsana at every step.
Today Transgender Law Center (TLC), Grant & Eisenhofer Law, and the Law Office of Daniel Yohalem announced that they have requested to file an amended complaint alleging wrongful death, negligence and discrimination on the part of the United States which led directly 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. This amended complaint adds the United States, including U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to the list of entities who had a direct role in Roxsana’s death.
“Every U.S. agency that Roxsana interacted with on her journey caused her harm and ultimately failed her,” said Dale Melchert, TLC’s staff attorney. “ICE had an obligation to provide care to Roxsana, a responsibility that they completely abdicated, and instead discriminated against her based on her gender identity, HIV status, and national origin. DHS cannot safely detain transgender people, and we cannot afford another lost life. DHS should end trans detention now.”
“My sister came to the U.S. in search of safety and protection from the horrific violence she experienced as a trans woman in Honduras, and what she found instead was abuse, discrimination, and neglect,” said Jenny Hernández Rodríquez, sister of Roxsana Hernandez. “The tragic fact that she is no longer with us is a direct result of that discrimination and neglect.”
Attorneys for Roxsana’s family seek to add the United States as a Defendant to Youngers v. MTC, the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico against the ICE contractors who transported and detained her: Management & Training Corporation, LaSalle Corrections Transport LLC, Global Precision Systems LLC, TransCor America LLC, and CoreCivic, Inc. Youngers alleges a negligence on the part of all 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 in blatant violation of US law. Further, the Defendants ignored the pleas of fellow asylum seekers who expressed concern for Roxsana’s condition. Discrimination here is clear. ICE and CBP treated Roxsana this way because she was a transgender asylum seeker from Honduras living with HIV. ICE shirked their responsibilities by repeatedly denying her life saving medical treatment, and the basic necessities of access to food and water.
“The gravity of Roxsana’s case, and the immediate need to end the detention of trans people in the U.S. cannot be overstated,” said Kimberly Evans from Grant & Eisenhofer Law. “That’s why we are excited to be partnering with TLC on this important matter.”
Last 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. The filing included testimony from trans migrants that make it clear that the abhorrent conditions that Roxsana was subjected to are still the norm, and that trans people are still languishing in detention throughout the deadly COVID-19 pandemic. In an effort to keep the pressure on the U.S., TLC is joining Familia: TQLM, Mijente, and the Black LGBTQIA+ Migrant Project (BLMP) to call on the Biden Administration to immediately end the detention of all trans people.
“What ICE did to Roxsana Hernandez is not an isolated incident. We have seen time and time again how ICE and CBP continue to abuse and perpetuate violence on trans immigrants at the border and in detention centers. Roxsana’s story is part of our broader demand to end trans detention and end all detention and deportation. Our communities will not stop organizing until we get justice for Roxsana Hernandez, Johana Medina and until we abolish ICE.”