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Over 100 Transgender People Are in ICE Custody


At least 45 trans people are being held at a Texas detention center, says a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesperson.


There are at least 111 "self-identified transgender individuals" in the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

ICE spokeswoman Danielle Bennett told the Washington Blade that, as of February 4, these individuals are being held in 20 facilities across the United States.

Additionally, Bennett confirmed that 45 transgender women are at the South Texas Detention Complex in Pearsall, Texas, a privately run facility outside of San Antonio.

Bennett said there are also transgender people still at the Cibola County Correctional Center, a New Mexico facility where Roxsana Hernandez -- a 33-year-old, HIV-positive transgender woman from Honduras -- was housed before dying in May 2018 at a nearby hospital. The privately owned prison has a unit exclusively for trans detainees.

Activists said Hernandez died of preventable causes. In a letter to ICE officials following Hernandez's death, New Mexico Republicans Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich and California Democrat Kamala Harris called for an explanation.

"According to ICE, Lovelace Medical Center preliminarily listed Ms. Hernandez'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. Hernandez was beaten with a baton or similar object while she was restrained by handcuffs," the letter read.

Bennett called reports of Hernandez's abuse "false" in a previous statement.

The Advocate named LGBTQ migrants its 2018 Person of the Year in order to highlight the perils faced by these asylum seekers. Many flee violence and discrimination in their home countries, only to face similar treatment on their journey to the U.S. border.

Once at the border, they must apply for asylum in an era where migrants are being demonized by the Trump administration, which has enacted draconian policies, such as the family separations, in order to deter immigration. Trump's latest change forces asylum seekers to wait in Mexico in dangerous circumstances until their cases are heard by U.S. judges.

The Transgender Law Center and other groups have called for ICE to adopt and immediately implement a policy against detaining transgender people; for the Department of Homeland Security, which has jurisdiction over ICE, to parole all LGBTQ undocumented immigrants and those with life-threatening medical conditions; and for the dismantling of ICE and Customs and Border Protection.

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Daniel Reynolds

Daniel Reynolds is the editor of social media for The Advocate. A native of New Jersey, he writes about entertainment, health, and politics.
Daniel Reynolds is the editor of social media for The Advocate. A native of New Jersey, he writes about entertainment, health, and politics.