Things That Matter

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.

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

Police In Tulum Killed A Refugee By Kneeling On Her Neck And Mexicans Want Justice

Things That Matter

Police In Tulum Killed A Refugee By Kneeling On Her Neck And Mexicans Want Justice

So many of those attempting to reach the United States – or even Mexico in some cases – are already fleeing extreme violence, poverty, and fear. Refugees from Honduras and El Salvador (among other countries) are hoping to find a better life faraway from the corruption and danger that they face in their home countries.

But what happens when those same people fleeing violence in their home countries are met with state-sponsored violence on their journey to a better life? Unfortunately, at least one refugee, 36-year-old Victoria Esperanza Salazar, a mother of two teenage daughters, has lost her life while hoping for a better one.

Four police officers are in custody after the killing of a woman from El Salvador.

Four municipal police officers are in custody and under investigation for murder following the death of a Salvadoran woman who was violently pinned to the ground while she was being arrested in Tulum.

Video footage shows a female officer with her knee on the back of 36-year-old Victoria Esperanza Salazar, a mother of two teenage daughters who was living in Tulum on a humanitarian visa.

In the footage, Victoria, who was apparently arrested for disturbing the peace, can be heard moaning in pain and is seen writhing on the road next to a police vehicle as she was held down for more than 20 seconds. Three male police are also present, one of whom appears to help the female offer restrain Victoria. Footage then shows officers drag her limp body into the back of a police truck.

Many are comparing Victoria’s murder to that of George Floyd.

Many in Mexico are comparing Victoria’s death to the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis last summer, who also died pinned under an officer’s knee. Video shared on social media shows a police officer leaning on Salazar’s head and neck and she cries out, and then goes limp. Officers then drag her body into the back of a police truck.

Mexican officials have largely condemned the officers’ actions and the Attorney General said that the officers — three men and one woman — will be charged with femicide. The charge of femicide carries a penalty of no less than 40 years in prison. The police actions violated the national law on the use of force, the Attorney General’s Office said. 

Victoria’s death comes as millions of Mexican women demand that the authorities do more to combat gender violence in Mexico, where an average of 11 women are killed every day. Her alleged murder also occurred as Mexican authorities ramp up enforcement against mainly Central American migrants traveling through Mexico to seek asylum in the United States.

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

Trans Latina’s Account Of Transphobic Treatment At TSA Goes Viral— ‘Solution was to ask me if I wanted to be scanned as a man’

Fierce

Trans Latina’s Account Of Transphobic Treatment At TSA Goes Viral— ‘Solution was to ask me if I wanted to be scanned as a man’

The TSA has long come under fire for its mishandling of minorities. From their treatment and suspicion of certain ethnicities to their mishandling of binary scanning technology, it’s no secret that TSA officers are lacking in awareness when it comes to certain issues. This is particularly true when it comes to nonbinary and trans people. In fact, recently a ProPublica investigation revealed that trans people are often forced to endure invasive searches by the TSA in airports.

In some of the worst cases, trans people have reported being forced to show their genitals to simply fly.

Rose Montoya, an Arizona-based, Hispanic, bisexual, nonbinary trans model recently recalled an experience with TSA that was extremely transphobic.

In the viral TikTok video, which has racked up over three million views, Montoya recalled her experience with airport security and underlined why “we need to change how the scanners function and educate TSA about trans people”.

Speaking about the recent incident, Montaya recalled how “going through the scanner, there’s a male and female scanner for the TSA checkpoint… But going through the scanner, I always have an ‘anomaly’ between my legs that sets off the alarm. So she asked me if I had anything in my pants and I say, ‘No’, so she said, ‘Maybe it’s just the metal buttons on your shorts.’”

“So I went through the scanner again but I set off the alarm again, so I said I am trans woman and to just pat me down,” she explained. “Her solution was to ask me if I wanted to be scanned as a man instead. I didn’t, but I ended up doing it. And my boobs set it off, because of course. So I tried to make a joke out of it and said don’t worry, there’s just a bunch of plastic in there. Then she said we have to pat you down and asked if I would prefer a man to do it. I said absolutely not.”

In an interview with Buzzfeed, Montoya was recently traveling from Phoenix to Los Angeles to visit her boyfriend when she was subjected to humiliation by TSA.

Montoya’s experience sparked a conversation on TikTok and Instagram, where many trans people shared similar experiences with TSA.

a“It’s been proven that the system we have in place is broken and doesn’t work,” she emphasized. “We also need to train people on how to treat trans people. If I tell you I’m a trans woman, it most likely means I want to be scanned as a woman, treated as a woman, and patted down by a woman.”

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com