Activists are calling on immigration officers to grant parole to Alejandra Barrera, a trans woman who’s been detained at Cibola Detention Facility in New Mexico since requesting asylum in November 2017.
After leaving El Salvador due to discrimination and violence, 44-year-old Barrera was detained by ICE and has repeatedly been denied asylum.
As of this week, Barrera has been denied for the fourth time and activists are pleading for authorities to stop her deportation. She is also now the longest held trans person in ICE custody ever, according to a Change.org petition started by TransLatin@ Coalition.
And she isn’t the only trans person seeking asylum in the U.S. that is facing huge barriers to escape violence or persecution.
Recent reports state that 45 transgender people are being held at the South Texas Detention Complex in Texas, a privately owned facility. Overall, the number of trans folks in ICE custody is nearly double that of last year.
According to the Washington Blade, ICE has 111 self-identified trans people in 20 facilities across the U.S. In September 2018, that number was 68. The mistreatment of trans people being held by ICE while in these facilities is well-documented.
An independent autopsy commissioned by the Transgender Law Center found that she had “deep hemorrhaging of the soft tissues and muscles over her ribs," and suggested her death was due to physical abuse. However, a new report from ICE released on Wednesday contradicted these findings, and stated she died from natural causes related to her HIV status.
Activists immediately rejected the report, which they had been demanding for over a year.
“The [agency] dragged their feet in releasing Roxsana’s autopsy report only to let ICE run the show and use the report to do their dirty work of shirking responsibility for her care,” said Lynly Egyes, director of litigation for TLC. “It’s absolutely appalling that they presented their findings to ICE prior to offering those findings to Roxsana’s family’s legal representatives."
Activists are now taking matters into their own hands by making sure that the mistreatment of trans people comes to an end at the border by urging people to call elected officials and demand Barrera's release.
Due to her not being given access to adequate medical care and treatment — while also being held for an extended time — many fear if there is no intervention then she could also face a similar fate to Hernandez.