A transgender woman died in custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, according to a recently released autopsy. Roxsana Hernández Rodriguez, 33, fled her home country of Honduras to Mexico and eventually to the U.S.-Mexico border, where she sought asylum at the San Ysidro Port of Entry. It was there that she was taken into custody on May 9, held for five days, and transferred to a unit at the Cibola County Correctional Center in New Mexico specifically for transgender women, where she was allegedly beaten and physically abused.
Cibola is operated by CoreCivic, which is currently the country’s second-largest private prison company. After one day at Cibola, Hernández Rodriguez was taken to Lovelace Medical Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico, at which point she was already critically ill and died of severe dehydration in intensive care.
Hernández Rodriguez experienced symptoms including diarrhea and vomiting episodes for several days with no medical attention. The autopsy report showed that her most likely cause of death was “severe complications of dehydration superimposed upon HIV infection.”
In the second autopsy conducted on her body, forensic pathologist Kris Sperry reported evidence of physical abuse including bruising and blunt-force trauma “indicative of blows, and/or kicks, and possible strikes with blunt object.” Sperry also found hemorrhaging on her wrists that were “typical of handcuff injuries.”
One month before her death, Hernández Rodriguez did an interview with BuzzFeed News where she stated that she was afraid for her life in Honduras after being attacked by MS-13 gang members.
“Four of them raped me, and as a result I got HIV,” she said. “Trans people in my neighborhood are killed and chopped into pieces, then dumped inside potato bags… I didn’t want to come to Mexico. I wanted to stay in Honduras but I couldn’t.”
Two weeks after she arrived on U.S. soil, Hernández Rodriguez died of dehydration with injuries indicative of physical abuse in custody of ICE.