Transgender Asylum Seeker Johana Medina Dies In ICE Custody On First Day Of Pride Month

A U.S. Border Patrol vehicle parks on a road.
Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

El Salvadoran asylum seeker Johana Medina became the second transgender immigrant to die in ICE custody since Donald Trump took office, dying on the first day of Pride Month.

Medina’s death was reported by the left-leaning news outlet Think Progress, which noted that Medina had continually asked for medical treatment while in custody but was reportedly denied proper care. Medina ultimately fell seriously ill from complications of HIV/AIDS and was transported to a hospital in El Paso, Texas, where she died on Saturday.

An account of Medina’s death was recounted by the activist group Diversidad Sin Fronteras, which focuses on helping LGBTQ migrants. Grecia, a trans leader from Juarez, Mexico, recounted the sharp decline of Medina’s health.

Grecia noted how Medina’s death came almost exactly one year after the death of another migrant who died in ICE custody. Roxana Hernandez, a 33-year-old from Honduras, passed away in May of 2018 after suffering what officials said was cardiac arrest.

“This morning I went to visit her at the hospital intensive care unit. When I looked at her I said that what happened a year ago to Roxana in the month of May could happen to Joa right in there. And it did. Unfortunately today at 21:00 hrs I got called by the hospital to tell me that she had passed away.”

Medina’s death has prompted national attention, with many decrying the treatment of migrants while in U.S. custody. After more than 10 years with no child migrants dying in U.S. custody, six have already passed away while under the care of Border Patrol since Donald Trump took office. That includes several cases in which Border Patrol was accused of failing to provide proper medical care to children facing medical crises.

The Trump administration has come under fire for its treatment of the LGBTQ community, particularly transgender individuals and groups, including a ban on transgender service members in the military. Though Trump has made statements in support of these groups, critics say his administration’s policies have stripped away rights and protections against discrimination.

This week, Trump became the first American president to acknowledge Pride Month, but critics said his statement denoting the month rings hollow given the actions of his administration.

Loading...

“You can’t celebrate Pride and constantly undermine our rights — including attacking #TransHealth, discharging #TransTroops, refusing to protect LGBTQ youth, and cozying up to dictators who brutalize & marginalize LGBTQ people,” Chad Griffin, the president of the Human Rights Campaign, said on Twitter. “This is gross hypocrisy, with an emphasis on gross.”