Trans Woman Who Died in ICE Custody Highlights Ongoing Abuse of LGBT Inmates

Phaylen Fairchild
3 min readOct 27, 2019

Roxsana Hernández had gone through all the legal channels to claim asylum in America, but died while in ICE Custody just a month after arriving.

The official autopsy on record declared that Hernández died of HIV related complications and classified her passing as a “manner of death as natural.”

A second independent autopsy was then demanded by the family which provided some alarming insight into the days leading up to her death and simultaneously revealed other contributing factors suggesting it as likely a premature and unnecessary loss of life. Hernández had deep tissue contusions which were consistent with blunt object impacts such as injuries from a baton or an asp that occurred while she was handcuffed according to the report obtained by the Transgender Law Center. She was also severely dehydrated.

Although Ms. Hernández required specific medical needs, she was repeatedly denied access to medical attention as her health rapidly declined due to the frigid temperatures and inhumane conditions within her facility.

When petitioned by Attorneys enlisted by her family, Officials with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement were asked to provide video surveillance footage of Hernández during her tumultuous stay, including those containing interactions she had with ICE agents while incarcerated at the Cibola County Correctional Center, a for-profit correctional facility in Milan, New Mexico and the only transgender ICE unit.

Authorities claimed they had deleted the footage and that no video record of her stay within the facility exists. A representative from ICE’s Office of Professional Responsibility explained; “…the requested video is no longer available. The footage is held in memory up to around 90 days. They attempted to locate and was negative.”

The Transgender Law Center has brought a Wrongful Death lawsuit against the Agency. Lynly Egyes, legal director of the Transgender Law Center, asserts that the footage should’ve been saved since CoreCivic, the private owner of the prison facility, should’ve anticipated pending litigation because of the independent autopsy requested by the family of Hernández reports New York Daily News.



Phaylen Fairchild

Actor, Filmmaker, LGBTQ+ & Women’s Rights Activist All work copyright