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Prison contractors sued over ‘wrongful death’ of trans woman who died ‘after being beaten’ in ICE custody

Vic Parsons May 21, 2020
Roxana Hernández: Lawsuit over 'wrongful death' of trans asylum seeker

A member of the Pink Unity Collective holds a photo of Roxana Hernandez. (Orlando Sierra/AFP/Getty)

Private companies working with the detention centre that trans asylum seeker Roxana Hernández died in are being sued for her alleged wrongful death in 2018.

The Transgender Law Centre has filed charges against several private companies that are contracted by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, according to Metro Weekly.

The lawsuit claims that negligence on behalf of the companies led to Roxana Hernández’s “wrongful death” in 2018.

“CoreCivic, La Salle, and Management & Training Corporation, along with the other private companies named in our lawsuit, receive federal funds in exchange for overseeing all the mechanisms that make our cruel system of immigration incarceration possible,” Andrew Free, one of the attorneys behind the lawsuit, said in a statement.

Detention centre contractors accused of refusing care.

“Through our investigation into Roxana’s death, we’ve learned that these companies violated their federal agency contracts, their own standards of care, Roxana’s rights, as well as the standards of care in the various states Roxana travelled through,” Free added.

“It’s horrifying that nearly two years after Roxana’s death, they’re still receiving federal funds without any accountability for the many lives that have been lost on their watch.”

In 2019, it emerged that ICE had deleted essential video footage, despite her death being investigated.

The lawsuit says: “Despite Roxana visibly exhibiting symptoms of distress associated with her serious medical condition throughout her four-state journey — including nausea, vomiting, fever, diaorrhea, and severe fatigue — and the persistent entreaties by Roxana and those with whom Roxana travelled, these contractors charged with her custody failed or refused to render her the timely care and intervention she required.”

“Had Roxana received the proper health care screening within 12 hours of entering custody as required by ICE policy and prevailing standards of medical care, she, more likely than not, would have had a greater chance of survival.”

Roxana Hernández was beaten before she died, independent autopsy finds.

Roxana Hernández, 33, died in the custody of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) at the Lovelace Medical Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

She had been seeking asylum at the San Ysidro port of entry on the US border when she was detained in ICE custody on 13 May 2018.

Hernández, known simply as Roxy, had travelled to the American border as part of a ‘refugee caravan’ — a group of more than 1,300 people — organised by immigration support group Pueblo Sin Fronteras.

In a statement announcing Hernández’s death, ICE said that she had been admitted to hospital on 17 May with symptoms of pneumonia, dehydration and complications associated with HIV.

The US body said that medical staff identified the “preliminary cause of death” as cardiac arrest.

But migrant groups blamed her death on the “medical negligence” on the part of American authorities, and accused them of “institutional murder”.

An independent autopsy report released in December 2018 showed that Hernández had been beaten before her death. ICE has denied that she was abused in its custody.

 

More: ice, immigration and customs enforcement, Roxana Hernández, Transgender Law Centre

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