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African HRC Joins in the Call to Ice to Release all Transgender Detainees

How did a Honduran asylum-seeker die of pneumonia, dehydration and complications associated with HIV? All while in ICE detention. ICE must be held accountable and to avoid such a detestable outcome in the future, must release all transgender detainees from detention, forthwith.

Roxana Hernández, aged 33 years, died while in ICE custody. Although she was taken to intensive care, activists are still demanding details surrounding her death.

"Paired with the abuse we know transgender people regularly suffer in ICE detention, the death of Ms. Hernández sends the message that transgender people are disposable and do not deserve dignity, safety or even life,” said Isa Noyola, deputy director at Transgender Law Center (TLC), in a blistering statement released jointly by the organization, Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement and Organización Latina de Trans en Texas.

The statement goes on to note that many detainees are kept in freezing holding cells.

According to ICE, Hernández, who is misgendered by name in the ICE news report, entered ICE custody May 13 in San Diego. She was transferred to El Paso and then Cibola County Correctional Center in Milan, New Mexico, where she was housed in the transgender unit.

On May 17, she was admitted to Cibola General Hospital with symptoms of pneumonia, dehydration and HIV complications. She died of cardiac arrest on May 25, according to ICE.

“Consistent with the agency’s protocols, the appropriate state health and local law enforcement agencies have been notified about this death, as have the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General and ICE’s Office of Professional Responsibility,” said ICE in the statement.

The agency says Hernández is the sixth detainee in its charge to die this year. This is unconscionable.

LGBTQ advocates have excoriated ICE for what they say is a pattern of abuse against transgender detainees.

"We have been demanding the release of our trans communities detained in ICE detention centers because of rampant physical and brutal treatment from guards and other detainees,” said Jorge Gutiérrez, executive director of Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement.

At African Human Rights Coalition, we condemn ICE's attempt to demonize Ms. Hernández, their misgendering of her on their public website, especially in the face of her memory, and their mentioning of prior petty crime charges, as an attempt at justification for her death while in ICE custody. We join the chorus of LGBTQI human rights defenders in insisting that all Transgender detainees be released from detention.

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