Transgender woman's death in ICE custody was 'entirely preventable,' advocates say after new autopsy released

An independent autopsy on a transgender woman who died in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody in New Mexico showed evidence that she was beaten, reports said Tuesday.
Roxsana Hernandez Rodriguez, 33, was part of a migrant caravan from Honduras when she was taken into ICE custody in May and died shortly after in the same month, the Arizona Republic reported.
She was HIV positive when she presented herself at the San Ysidro port of entry near San Diego, Calif., and then held at the Cibola County Correctional Center in New Mexico, where she developed severe diarrhea and vomiting, the Washington Post reported. She was then transferred to a hospital.
The autopsy, conducted on behalf of members of Hernandez's family, showed deep bruising on the left and right sides of her chest, as well as deep contusions on the left and right sides of her upper back, the Republic reported.
The "blunt force trauma of lateral thoracic walls and posterior thorax (are) indicative of blows, and/or kicks, and possible strikes with blunt object," according to the autopsy report, which also found "extensive deep hemorrhages" on the right and left wrists and hands "typical of handcuff injuries," the Republic reported.
The Transgender Law Center (TLC) and Andrew Free, a civil rights attorney, filed a wrongful death notice claim Monday with the New Mexico Attorney General's Office, the report said.
"In the final days of her life, she was transferred from California to Washington to New Mexico, shackled for days on end. If she was lucky, she was given a bottle of water to drink. Her cause of death was dehydration and complications related to HIV," Lynly Egyes, TLC's director of litigation, said, according to a release. "Her death was entirely preventable.”
The family also released a statement through Free and the Transgender Law Center.
“Roxsana Hernandez was our sister and it was an injustice to have her die the way she did,” the statement said. “She left with dreams of opening a beauty salon and hopes of helping us out. She fled Honduras because here transgender people are discriminated against.”
ICE spokeswoman Leticia Zamarripa said in a written statement any allegations that Hernandez was abused while in ICE custody are false, the Republic reported.
"A review of Hernandez's death conducted by ICE Health Service Corps medical professionals confirmed that she suffered from a history of untreated HIV," Zamarripa said. "At no time did the medical personnel treating Ms. Hernandez at Cibola General Hospital or Lovelace Medical Center raise any issues of suspected physical abuse."
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