Autopsy Results: Deceased Transgender Immigrant Sustained Physical Injuries in ICE Custody, Received Inadequate Medical Care

On November 26th, 2018, the Daily Beast reported that a transgender woman named Roxsana Hernández Rodriguez — who tragically died in a privately run immigration detention facility last May — was likely physically abused and denied necessary medical care before passing away. This is according to the results of an autopsy report released by the family.

This is just the latest horrifying example of abuse and neglect that has been reported at an American immigration detention center. Immigrant rights groups have long raised concerns about the subpar, often dangerous conditions in U.S. detention facilities. There is growing evidence to suggest that conditions are growing even worse under the Trump Administration.

The Autopsy Results Showed Evidence of Physical Abuse

In May of 2018, Roxsana Hernández Rodriguez was transferred to Cibola County Correctional Center in New Mexico. This privately run immigration detention facility is operated by CoreCivic, the second largest contractor in this particular field. Within nine days of the transfer to the new facility, Ms. Hernández Rodríguez passed away. Based on the results of an autopsy, the Daily Beast is reporting that there was significant evidence of physical abuse. This includes:

  • Deep bruising on hands and her abdomen, consistent with kicks, blows, or blunt force object strikes; and
  • Substantial wrist bruising, typical of handcuff-related trauma.  

Dehydration Was Identified as the Cause of Death

Beyond the signs of physical abuse, there is strong evidence to suggest that Ms. Hernández Rodríguez did not receive adequate medical care. Forensic pathologist Kris Sperry ruled that her official cause of death was severe complications related to dehydration. This individual had HIV. It is unclear as to what, if any, additional care was provided by the immigration detention center to account for her underlying medical condition. ICE and official representatives of CoreCivic are denying any wrongdoing.  

What to Do If Your Loved One Dies in Immigration Detention

Unfortunately, more and more innocent families have been forced deal with the pain and trauma that comes after a loved one dies in ICE custody. Over the past decade, more than 100 immigrants have died in U.S. detention facilities. Many organizations, including Human Rights Watch and Detention Watch Network, have found evidence indicating that many of these deaths could and should have been prevented with proper safety precautions. If your loved one dies in ICE custody, please be sure to do the following three things:

  1. Obtain an official Notification of Death from the facility;
  2. Claim the body, as it is your right under U.S. federal law; and
  3. Contact an experienced attorney to discuss your legal rights and your legal options.

We Support Immigrant Rights in Southern California

At the Goldstein Immigration Lawyers, our law firm fights for the rights of vulnerable immigrants. We handle the full array of immigration law matters. To find out more about what our immigration lawyer in Los Angeles can do for you, please do not hesitate to call us today. 

Josh Goldstein
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