Protesters Demand Answers About Transgender Woman Who Died In ICE Custody

Jun 6, 2018

Dozens of transgender people seeking asylum were part of the caravan that crossed the border about a month ago. One woman was transferred to a detention facility in New Mexico, and she died days later. Demonstrators gathered at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement field office in Albuquerque Wednesday afternoon to march, chant and demand answers.

Immigrant rights groups say Roxsana Hernandez was denied medical care at the Cibola County Correctional Center, a privately run facility near Grants. That’s common for transgender people who are detained here, according Gabriela Hernandez, the executive director of the New Mexico Dream Team. "We often face a lot of isolation and misgendering," she said. "And so we see a lot of transgender women in the male detention centers. And so the sexual assaults are much much higher."

Gabriela Hernandez of the New Mexico Dream Team holds a picture of Roxsana Hernandez outside the ICE field office in Albuquerque.
Credit Marisa Demarco / KUNM

Part of the problem, she said, is that ICE is not transparent about what happens inside detention facilities, and that means there is no accountability or assurances that the agency follows its own rules. "We are out here to demand explanations. Because every single time, ICE has not explained how or why this keeps happening," she said. "The conditions are pretty bad. And being transgender, LGBTQ, undocumented, it’s even worse."

Roxsana Hernandez is the sixth person to die while in custody since October, according to ICE. An autopsy is pending. The agency released a statement saying medical care is provided to detainees soon after they arrive, and they do have access to emergency care.