Transgender HIV Positive El Salvador Migrant Woman Dies in ICE Custody

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TransgenderICE officials reported on June 2, 2019, 25-year-old Johana Medina Leon a transgender migrant woman who came to a New Mexico Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention center from El Salvador died on June 2 in a hospital in El Paso, Texas.

Leon first became sick while at the detention center, and her death has caused scrutiny of ICE facilities and how they mistreat detainees who are gay and transgender.

After the transgender woman complained she was having chest pains on May 28, at the Otero County Processing Center, she was taken to the hospital.

Officials say the immigrant asked for an HIV test that day, and it returned with a positive result.

El Paso, Texas, ICE Enforcement and Removal Operation field office director Corey A. Price released a statement saying:

This is another example, which is unfortunate, of a person enters the United States illegally with an illness that is unscreened and untreated.

Our southern border has a crisis with a large number of illegal aliens lured by human smugglers who like to the, with the primary goal of making a profit. They have no regard for human well being or human life.

Many of the aliens come to the United States, not knowing they have diseases or have untreated conditions. These issues are often not diagnosed until they have a medical examination in the detention center.

ICE officials have said the transgender woman presented herself on April 11 at the Port of Entry at Paso del Norte in El Paso, Texas. On May 18, she passed the required interview, which determined that she had a credible issue regarding persecution in her home country of El Salvador.

The day she was taken out of custody, she was transferred to the hospital in Texas.

Nathan Craig who is a member of the Chihuahua Desert group Advocate Visitors with Immigrants in Detention said that he was in touch with other transgender women who were in ICE custody at Otero. He mentioned they complained of poor treatment at the facility.

He alleges one of the transgender women told him they were sick and were not given medical treatment.

Grecia, an activist for transgender individuals in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, said she visited Leon whom she referred to as Joa, the morning she died in the hospital.

She said she was alarmed by her condition and feared she would have a similar fate as a transgender woman who died on May 25, 2018.

Roxsana Hernandez Rodriguez, a transgender migrant woman, died in a detention center in Mexico while in ICE custody.

Grecia said in a press release that she received a phone call from the hospital at 9:00 informing her that Leon had died.

The autopsy report for Rodriguez released in April showed she died from complications related to AIDS.

A second autopsy conducted at the request of the Transgender Law Center showed she died from complications from AIDS and dehydration.

Written by Barbara Sobel


The Washington Post: Transgender woman migrant who had been in ICE custody dies after falling ill
My San Antonio: Transgender woman migrant who had been in ICE custody dies after falling ill
CNN: Transgender woman migrant dies after illness in ICE custody, report says

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