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This Trans Woman Died In ICE Custody And Now Her Family Is Suing Because Video Footage Has Gone Missing

Surveillance footage of Roxsana Hernandez, a trans woman who died in ICE custody, may have been deleted by the agency, her family’s lawyers say. However, the company that runs the facility claims the cameras automatically overwrote the video. The attorneys believe the footage could be key evidence in determining the events that led up to Hernandez’s death. 

The 33-year-old died May 25, 2018, in a New Mexico detention center from AIDS complications. Her death caused public outrage when advocates claimed she didn’t receive appropriate medical care while in custody. ICE officials say Hernandez wasn’t in custody long enough to be assessed and receive adequate treatment. 

Emails are released that reveal the footage of Hernandez’s death had been deleted.

The Transgender Law Center revealed an email exchange between officials that suggests the Cibola Country Correctional Center, a privately run ICE facility, did not preserve the surveillance footage. Hernandez only spent less than a day there before being moved to a hospital. 

Buzzfeed published the emails obtained through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit. An analyst in ICE’s Office of Professional Responsibility requested a copy of the video footage in an email. 

“The requested video is no longer available,” said a supervisory detention and deportation officer in an Aug. 28, 2018, email. “The footage is held in memory up to around 90 days. They attempted to locate and was negative.”

Hernandez’s lawyers believe the footage was vital to her case. 

The family’s lawyers insist that ICE is required to keep evidence, electronic or not if it expects litigation. They believe the agency should have anticipated a lawsuit. The footage could reveal the severity of Hernandez’s health condition and could provide ample evidence that she was denied necessary care. 

“ICE and CoreCivic have consistently denied wrongdoing and stated that they in effect provided Roxsana with all the health care she needed,” Hernandez’s family’s attorney Andrew Free told BuzzFeed News. “The video would be essential and frankly irreplaceable evidence of whether that was true.”

CoreCivic is the private prison where Hernandez was held before she was hospitalized in Albuquerque. Lynly Egyes, legal director at the Transgender Law Center, also believes ICE should have held onto the footage.

“That autopsy alone made it clear there was interest in this case,” Egyes told BuzzFeed News. “When a detainee death review is conducted, it’s important to keep track of all the documents to understand why someone died, and for that reason alone, they should’ve been keeping all of this evidence.”

Hernandez’s death sparks public outrage. 

Hernandez was a native Honduran who arrived in the United States in a caravan of transgender migrants. She died two weeks after requesting asylum. Following her death, the Transgender Law Center filed a notice of wrongful death claim on her behalf to hold ICE and any other guilty parties accountable.

The LGBTQ community rallied in nationwide protests for Hernandez, some even took place outside of ICE offices and courthouses. 

Transgender Law Center releases Hernandez’s “death review.” 

In a document known as the “Detainee Death Review” for Hernandez, the law center says there are “various discrepancies in the medical treatment Roxsana received and immigration enforcement’s internal protocols.” BuzzFeed News reports that there was no indication Hernandez received antiretrovirals for HIV while she was in detention. 

“Roxsana needed medical care and yet she was cleared to be incarcerated. At numerous times throughout her days in immigration enforcement custody, the people she was detained with pleaded for her to receive medical care,” Egyes said in a statement, according to CNN

“It is clear from these records that if immigration enforcement believes that their sole duty is to shuffle people into immigration prisons, that is what they’ll do. As a result, the consequences for those who are either sick or who get sick while in their custody can be fatal.”

ICE maintains they didn’t have time to give Hernandez treatment.

Philip Farabaugh, deputy medical director for ICE Health Service Corps, says Hernandez needed lab tests before she could receive drugs or treatment. 

“Hernandez was in transit for most of her brief time with ICE. When she arrived at Cibola, such evaluation could not take place in such a short window of time prior to her transfer to the hospital,” Farabaugh said. “HIV medications are not without risks, and you don’t initiate them when other complex, life-threatening medical conditions are at hand.”

The detainee death review says that immigration officers are expected to flag any medical issues observed to health care professionals, but none were reported regarding Hernandez. Before arriving at the border, Hernandez told Buzzfeed she fled Honduras after contracting HIV due to sex worked forced by gangs. She came to the U.S. seeking tolerance and safety. 

“If DHS cannot be trusted to play by the rules, both before and after a detained migrant’s death based on these records, how can DHS be trusted to continue imprisoning migrants at all?” Free said.

A Guatemalan Teen Died In Border Patrol Custody And Now Graphic New Video Shows His Last Hours

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A Guatemalan Teen Died In Border Patrol Custody And Now Graphic New Video Shows His Last Hours

Family of Carlos Gregorio Hernandez Vasquez

When 16-year-old Guatemalan Carlos Gregorio Hernandez Vasquez died six days after arriving at South Texas processing center, Customs and Border Protection released their version of events. Now, an uncovered ProPublica video reveals a different version. 

When Carlos died in May, acting Customs and Border Protection commissioner John Sanders said an agent found Carlos “unresponsive” after checking on him. However, ProPublica acquired a video of Carlos’ last hours that dispute he was provided with adequate healthcare. 

Carlos is the sixth migrant under 18 years old to die in federal custody under the Trump administration, according to the New York Times. Here’s what really happened.

Hours before he died, Carlos had a fever of 103 degrees, according to records.

The day before he died, a nurse instructed authorities to check on the 16-year-old in a couple of hours and said he should be taken to the emergency room if his sickness worsened. They did not follow the orders. Carlos was diagnosed with the flu, fearing he would contaminate other migrants agents moved into a quarantine cell. The next morning another sick boy in the cell found him dead.

The video shows that Carlos was visibly incredibly ill. It shows that the only way you couldn’t have noticed this teenage boy needed urgent care was if you were willfully ignoring him.

“The cellblock video shows Carlos writhing for at least 25 minutes on the floor and a concrete bench. It shows him staggering to the toilet and collapsing on the floor, where he remained in the same position for the next four and a half hours,” according to ProPublica. 

ProPublica referred to a Border Patrol “subject activity log” where it said an agent checked on him three times on the morning of his death but reported nothing out of the ordinary. The article suggests that “agent charged with monitoring him failed to perform adequate checks, if he even checked at all.” 

ProPublica believes the video disputes CBP’s account of Carlos’ death. 

The security video shows that it was Carlos’ cellmate who discovered his body, not any agents doing a welfare check, as CBP alleged in their press release. The video shows no welfare checks taking place at all. However, ProPublica discovered a four-hour gap of missing footage that coincides with the times an agent reported doing the welfare checks. CBP would not comment. A coroner heard secondhand that an agent may have checked by looking through the cell window. 

“On the video, the cellmate can be seen waking up and groggily walking to the toilet, where Carlos was lying in a pool of blood on the floor. He gestures for help at the cell door. Only then do agents enter the cell and discover that Carlos had died during the night,” ProPublica described. 

When ProPublica reporters asked Department of Homeland Security if cell footage of Carlos’ final hours were shown on the live video monitors, they would not comment. 

“While we cannot discuss specific information or details of this investigation, we can tell you that the Department of Homeland Security and this agency are looking into all aspects of this case to ensure all procedures were followed,” CBP spokesperson Matt Leas said.

Medical experts condemn the circumstances of the teenager’s death. 

“Why is a teenaged boy in a jail facility at all if he is sick with a transmissible illness? Why isn’t he at a hospital or at a home or clinic where he can get a warm bed, fluids, supervised attention and medical care? He is not a criminal,” said Dr. Judy Melinek, a forensic pathologist that reviewed Carlos’ death records

The New York Times notes the tens of millions of dollars have been funneled into migrant healthcare, with medical practitioners near the southwestern border increasing over tenfold. However, an examination by the paper found that most Border Patrol facilities in the area are insufficient in their ability to asses migrant health, despite years of internal warnings on the matter. 

“Flu can progress rapidly, but it’s not like a heart attack. Even when fast, it worsens over a period of hours. There should have been signs that indicated he needed to go to the hospital,” Dr. Joshya Sharfstein, who works at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health said.

Former commissioner Sanders has since resigned and expressed remorse over the situation blaming the largely Democratic Congress for being “unresponsive” — not necessarily the Trump administration for the problem, according to ProPublica

“I really think the American government failed these people. The government failed people like Carlos,” he said. “I was part of that system at a very high level, and Carlos’ death will follow me for the rest of my life.”

Carlos’ death was not entirely in vain. The loss of his life prompted new regulations for Border Patrol agents which require they physically enter the cells of sick detainees, conduct regular welfare checks, and take their temperatures.

Mexico Is Rated The 2nd Most Dangerous Country On Earth For Trans People, But Mexico City Is Moving To Protect Trans Youth

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Mexico Is Rated The 2nd Most Dangerous Country On Earth For Trans People, But Mexico City Is Moving To Protect Trans Youth

Omgitsjustintime / Instagram

Mexico City has long been a hub for some of the more progressive policies to take hold in Mexico. Despite being the capital of a largely conservative and religious country, the capital has enacted several much-needed human rights policies that have helped some of the nation’s most at-risk populations.

From becoming the first city in Latin America to legalize same-sex marriage (in 2009) to being the only city in the country to offer legal on-demand abortion (from 2007 until Oaxaca also decriminalized it in September 2019), Mexico City has been a leader for progressive values.

And it’s been leading the cause for transgender rights for years. So news that the city government was planning additional protections for transgender Mexicans, didn’t surprise many but has still managed to spur some protests.

The Mexico City law would allow youth to change their legal names and gender to match those of their identity.

Children in Mexico City might soon be able to legally change their name and gender through a “quick” formality at a government office.

A proposal to allow minors to change the details on their birth certificates with the authorization of one of their parents will be presented in the Mexico City Congress next week after it won support from two congressional committees.

Nineteen lawmakers voted in favor of the bill while just three voted against it. The Morena party-backed bill proposes changing Mexico City’s civil code to enable transgender children and adolescents to change their name and gender by completing an administrative procedure at civil registry offices.

To do so they would have to be accompanied by either their mother, father or legal guardian.

Morena Deputy Paola Soto, one of the bill’s two main proponents, said the proposed law would guarantee the rights of transgender minors. “. . . Above all, it doesn’t imply a revictimizing judicial process as is now in force,” Soto said.

Allowing children to choose gender is all about respect.

Credit: NurPhoto

Those who identify as a gender that doesn’t “match” the sex they were born with pose no threat to anyone.

Just because Mexico has other, bigger problems doesn’t mean that we need to ignore all the ones we consider smaller in the meantime. If we can help children to accept themselves and be respected by others by giving them the legitimacy of a standardized bureaucratic procedure, then it should do that.

The statistics are clear: any kind of gender or sexual identity “deviance” is correlated with sky-high rates of depression, suicide and self-harm . . . and that’s just on the individual level. Family estrangement, abuse and homelessness are also too prevalent in this population. Then of course there’s the run-of-the-mill everyday discrimination they face by society at large.

However, the proposal isn’t without its opponents who have taken to the streets to protest.

Credit: National Front For The Family

A coalition of anti-abortion and other groups protested outside the city council building Tuesday, holding signs reading “No to The Trans Law,” and “Don’t Confuse Children.”

They argued children cannot be expected to make such a decision.

The bill also faces opposition from lawmakers with the other three major parties but Morena (the current President’s political party) has a majority in the 66-seat unicameral Congress.

National Action Party Deputy Christian von Roehrich said that only the federal Congress is authorized to make civil code changes as per a Supreme Court ruling.

Mexico City has a long history of taking progressive values and turning them into concrete policies.

Credit: Animal Politico

From becoming the first city in Latin America to legalize same-sex marriage (in 2009) to being the only city in the country to offer legal on-demand abortion (from 2007 until Oaxaca also decriminalized it in September 2019), Mexico City has been a leader for progressive values.

The city has also lead the battle for transgender rights and is even piloting a program to provide a monthly stipend to more than 100 trans individuals so that they can have proper access to medical care and hormone replacement therapy.

However, the city and country still suffer from extreme violence targeting members of the LGBTQ+ community.

Credit: NurPhoto

According to the Mexico Global Impunity Index, 99 percent of all crimes in the country go unpunished. This shocking level of impunity adds up to lethal equation for the trans community, which already faces widespread social prejudice. The organization Transgender Europe documented 217 murders of trans men and women in Mexico between 2008 and 2016, ranking it the second deadliest country in the world for trans people after Brazil. Rocio Suárez, a spokesperson from the Mexico City-based pressure group Center of Support for Trans Identities, tells Broadly that 12 trans people have been killed in October of this year alone.