Protest of woman’s death in ICE custody

Rer060618a
Protesters stand in a makeshift jail as a way to bring attention to the death of a transgender woman who died last month while in the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. (Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)

A protest and rally Wednesday to call attention to the death of a transgender woman while she was in the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement last month drew about 75 people, who marched and chanted slogans within earshot of the Albuquerque ICE building at Mesa del Sol.

Many of the people attending were members of organizations representing the immigrant community and organizations that advocate on behalf of the LGBTQ community.

As part of a “national day of action,” with protests around the country, they called upon Congress to abolish ICE and for the immediate release of all asylum-seeking immigrants at the privately run Cibola County Correctional Center, where ICE detainees are held in New Mexico. They also called upon New Mexico officials “for a review of conditions in every detention center in our state,” said Gabriela Hernandez, executive director of New Mexico Dream Team.

Leticia Zamarripa, spokeswoman for the Department of Homeland Security, said of the Wednesday protest: “U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) fully respects the rights of all people to voice their opinion peacefully.”

The dead transgender woman was identified by ICE as Jeffry Hernandez, 33. She went by the name Roxsana Hernandez, and was from Honduras, according to the protesters. However, a previously released statement from ICE said Hernandez twice entered the U.S. illegally between 2005 and 2009, and both times was granted voluntary return to Mexico after claiming Mexican nationality.

1147645
Roxsana Hernandez, a 33-year-old transgender woman, died May 25 in an Albuquerque hospital while in the custody of ICE. (Courtesy: Joaquin Sanchez-Leal)

She also illegally re-entered the country a third time in 2014, was arrested, processed and removed.

Hernandez arrived at the U.S. San Ysidro Port of Entry in California on May 9 as part of the caravan of Central American migrants seeking asylum. On May 16, she was transferred to the Cibola County Correctional Center, which is run by the private CoreCivic firm. The following day she was transported to a nearby hospital and ultimately transferred to Lovelace Medical Center in Albuquerque, where she died on May 25.

She was the sixth person to die in ICE custody since October, Gabriela Hernandez said.

A preliminary finding on the cause of death was cardiac arrest as a result of complications from HIV, according to the previously released ICE statement.

The protesters, however, said the cause of death was inhumane treatment and denial of prompt access to medical attention for a woman who was medically fragile from the moment she was taken into custody, said Joaquín Sánchez-Leal, an attorney with Instituto Legal in Albuquerque.

Hernandez spent her first five days in custody in extremely cold holding cells called “iceboxes,” where she “filled out paperwork and experienced hunger, fear and intimidation,” Sánchez-Leal said.

ICE, however, claims that “comprehensive medical care is provided from the moment detainees arrive and throughout the entirety of their stay.”

Rer060618b
Janette Penunuri holds a flier featuring a photo of Roxsana Hernandez, a transgender woman who died while in the custody of ICE. A protest Wednesday adjacent to the ICE building in Mesa del Sol attracted about 75 people. (Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)

Share Your Story

Nativo Sponsored Content

taboola desktop

MORE ARTICLES LIKE THIS

1
Topgolf property listed for $16 million
ABQnews Seeker
The property housing Topgolf's Albuquerque location ... The property housing Topgolf's Albuquerque location is on the market, with a list price of $16 million.
2
Verus Research scratches a seven-year itch — for more ...
ABQnews Seeker
With seven years of accelerated growth ... With seven years of accelerated growth under its belt, Albuquerque engineering firm Verus Research h ...
3
Man charged in series of West Side armed robberies
ABQnews Seeker
A man is accused of robbing ... A man is accused of robbing 10 West Side businesses at knifepoint — most of them in less than a month’s time — and ...
4
Percentage of fully vaccinated NM residents nears 70% mark
ABQnews Seeker
The percentage of New Mexico adults ... The percentage of New Mexico adults fully vaccinated against COVID-19 inched closer to 70% on Friday, with the state's vaccine administration rate having ticked ...
5
Father accused of sexually assaulting girls during sleepover
ABQnews Seeker
A man is accused of sexually ... A man is accused of sexually assaulting his daughter’s friends — 12 and 13 year olds — after getting them drunk during a sleepover ...
6
NM unemployment drops, but still higher than nation
ABQnews Seeker
After staying stagnant for several months, ... After staying stagnant for several months, New Mexico's unemployment rate dropped in August bu ...
7
Rio Rancho, West Side could add legislative power
ABQnews Seeker
Rio Rancho could gain a seat ... Rio Rancho could gain a seat in the state House under redistricting plans issued this week as New Mexico prepares to draw new political ...
8
Police ID man shot by Santa Fe deputy
ABQnews Seeker
New Mexico State Police identified the ... New Mexico State Police identified the man shot and injured by a Sante Fe County Sheriff's Office deputy Sept. 16 as Marvin Montoya, a ...
9
New Mexico reports 5 cases of West Nile virus ...
ABQnews Seeker
State health officials say they have ... State health officials say they have identified five cases of West Nile virus infections across New Mexico and that wet weather may be a ...