WASHINGTON, D.C. — Wednesday, U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) sent a letter to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Acting Director Ronald D. Vitiello and U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin K. McAleenan urging the immediate public release of a death review and supporting documentation on Roxana Hernández, a 33-year-old transgender woman who died at a New Mexico hospital while in ICE custody.
The senators also have requested documentation of ICE and CBP training related specifically to the treatment and safety of transgender individuals in custody.
“Reports suggest that while she was held at the San Ysidro Port of Entry, Ms. Hernández endured freezing temperatures and was denied adequate food, water, and medical care. During her transport between facilities by ICE, she vomited to the extent other detainees begged authorities to provide her with water and proper medical care,” wrote the senators. “According to ICE, Lovelace Medical Center preliminarily listed Ms. Hernández’s cause of death as cardiac arrest. The Transgender Law Center had an independent autopsy performed that suggested severe complications of dehydration on top of an H.I.V. infection and also suggested that Ms. Hernández was beaten with a baton or similar object while she was restrained by handcuffs.”
The senators continued, “Congress requires ICE to publish an initial report, for public release, on each in-custody death for within 30 days and similarly for a final report within 60 days. It has been over 180 days since Ms. Hernández was pronounced dead and no such report has been publicly released. ICE’s failure to release this report diminishes the systemic, traumatic, and in this case fatal, violence that transgender individuals experience daily as a result of their gender identity.”