San Diego

Death of Transgender Migrant Makes Local Activists Call For Justice

A wrongful death lawsuit has been filed

Dozens gathered at the Transgender Law Center in City Heights Monday to demand justice for a migrant who died while in U.S. custody. 

Roxsana Hernandez, 33, was a transgender immigrant from Honduras who came to the U.S. to seek asylum. 

The HIV-positive woman came to the U.S.-Mexico border near San Ysidro and was transferred to New Mexico where she died in May. 

Attorneys said Hernandez was handcuffed, tortured and denied basic medical care and water. 

The Transgender Law Center ordered an independent autopsy. They added that Hernandez died from dehydration. 

"Roxsana was shackled for a long time and very tightly, enough to cause deep bruising on her wrists," said Lynly Egyes, director of litigation for the Transgender Law Center. "She had deep bruising injuries consistent with physical abuse with a baton." 

The Transgender Law Center announced Monday a wrongful death lawsuit against the State of New Mexico. Egyes added that Hernandez's death could have been prevented. 

Jerome Jones, an LGBTQ activist at the law center Monday, said Hernandez's story deeply affected him. 

"The government doesn't look at us like human beings, they see these different labels," said Jones. "Treat us as human beings first. Roxsana was a human being, a sister to all of us." 

In early November, about 76 people from the LGBTQ community arrived in Tijuana ahead of a large migrant caravan in buses that were paid for by an anonymous organization. They said they were discriminated against by people in the caravan.

"To come here at the border and then face the military, to lose your life trying to escape to a better life is not a fair payment," added Jones. "That's a actually horrible punishment." 

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