She Fled Violence In El Salvador And Passed A Credible Fear Interview But Still Died While Under ICE Custody
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is facing backlash for the preventable death of a Salvadoran trans woman. Johana “Joa” Medina Leon was in ICE custody for six weeks before dying of complications from HIV. Medina Leon’s death is highlighting the growing concern of LGBTQ+ people held in ICE detention centers. Namely, LGBTQ+ activists are demanding that ICE treat trans asylum seekers by their preferred gender to prevent sexual assaults and harassment.
Another trans asylum seeker has died in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody.
Diversidad Sin Fronteras reported that Johana Medina Leon, an asylum seeker from El Salvador, has died in ICE custody. Medina presented herself at the U.S.-Mexico border for political asylum and had been in detention since. The first step to getting political asylum is to present yourself at the U.S. border to border patrol officials. Medina Leon is the second trans woman to die in ICE custody since President Trump changed policies for U.S. immigration officials and asylum seekers.
Medina Leon was in ICE custody for six weeks before she died a preventable death.
According to Refinery29, Medina Leon passed her credible fear interview in mid-May but ICE officials did not parole Medina until she began to complain about chest pains. It was then that she was taken to Del Sol Medical Center in El Paso, Texas on May 28. She died on June 1 from complications from HIV.
In their statement, ICE deadnamed Medina Leon erasing her trans identity.
Deadnaming trans people is the practice of using a trans person’s name given to them at birth. It erases their trans identity and leads to an underreporting of trans murders and hate crimes because of the misgendering.
ICE went further and blamed Medina Leon, and other migrants, for their deaths.
“This is yet another unfortunate example of an individual who illegally enters the United States with an untreated, unscreened medical condition,” Corey A. Price, field office director for ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations in El Paso, said in a statement. “There is a crisis at our southern border with a mass influx of aliens lured by the lies of human smugglers who profit without regard for human life or well-being. Many of these aliens attempt to enter the United States with untreated or unknown diseases, which are not diagnosed until they are examined while in detention.”
Diversidad Sin Fronteras is combatting the narrative from ICE that Medina Leon is to blame for her death and blaming ICE for their lack of care.
“Joa traveled legally in Mexico as well,” reads a post by Diversidad Sin Fronteras. “She patiently waited over a month in Tapachula, Chiapas for her transitory visa. She did nothing wrong. This did not have to happen. #NIUNAMAS #JUSTICEFORLAJOA“
Last year, Roxana Hernandez was being held for deportation back to Honduras when she died from complications related to HIV.
ICE officials said that the Honduran woman died of natural causes related to her HIV diagnosis. However, as more people investigated, it is being claimed that she died from abuse and lack of necessary food and healthcare. Medina Leon’s death is stoking fears that more LGBTQ+ migrants will have deadly negligence in the near future.