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Rally in Sacramento on Monday for transgender asylum-seeker who died in ICE custody

LGBTQ and migrant rights activists block intersection in Albuquerque, NM, in August 2018 to demand justice for Roxsana.
LGBTQ and migrant rights activists block intersection in Albuquerque, NM, in August 2018 to demand justice for Roxsana. Transgender Law Center

A rally is planned Monday in front of the Sacramento Field Office of US Citizenship and Immigration Services to protest the death of a transgender woman in custody.

Roxsana Hernandez Rodriguez, an HIV-positive transgender woman who sought asylum in the United States, died in ICE custody last year as a result of “physical assault and abuse,” said a news release from the #StillHere Coalition.

The one-year anniversary of Hernandez’s death was May 25.

Hernandez fled discrimination and violence in her home country, Honduras, but was detained by ICE at the San Ysidro Port of Entry on May 13, 2018, according to a case report from the Transgender Law Center. Three days later, she was transferred to Cibola Correctional Facility, a private ICE facility in New Mexico, the center said in a news release.

After 16 days in ICE’s custody, she died in an Albuquerque hospital, said the #StillHere Coalition. She was 33.

An Immigration and Customs Enforcement news release said that the cause of death was cardiac arrest. But a private autopsy commissioned by the Transgender Law Center found that Hernandez had “endured physical assault and abuse while in custody” before eventually dying of dehydration and complications related to HIV infection.

A notice of wrongful death filed by the Transgender Law Center noted, “Forensic evidence indicates she was handcuffed so tightly as to cause deep tissue bruising and struck repeatedly on the back and rib cage by an asp or similar instrument while her hands were restrained behind her back.”

The rally will take place at 4 p.m. Monday at 650 Capitol Mall. It is the conclusion to a national week of actions, #JusticeForRoxsana, that began Sunday and has spanned 18 cities in 10 states, the Transgender Law Center said.

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Chalay Chalermkraivuth, from Yale University, is a local news reporter for The Sacramento Bee. She reports on arts and entertainment, the LGBTQ community and social justice. She grew up in Bangkok, Thailand.
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