Transgender asylum-seeker deported to El Salvador has been murdered, group says

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A trans advocacy group in El Salvador tells the Washington Blade that a trans asylum-seeker who was deported by the U.S. several months ago has died from injuries she sustained in an attack outside San Salvador. “She migrated to the U.S. because of threats that she had received,” said LGBTQ advocate Aislinn Odaly’s, “but she was deported because they didn’t believe her.”

Camila had gone missing for several days at the end of January, Asociación Aspidh Arcoiris Trans told the Washington Blade, when the group finally located her at a hospital on Jan. 31. The report doesn’t indicate what happened to her, only that she sustained “multiple injuries.” Camila died on Feb. 3. Just days later, another trans woman, Lolita, was murdered in a brutal machete attack, the group said.

Deportation can mean death for trans migrants in particular, yet they are sent back to dangerous conditions they fled from in the first place. Even after arriving at our border in search of safety, trans people are extremely vulnerable to abuse while in immigration detention. “From 2009 to 2013, 1 in 5 substantiated allegations of sexual assault in ICE detention facilities had a transgender victim.” The Human Rights Campaign reports that “trans women were detained on average more than twice the average length of detainment of all immigrants held in ICE custody during fiscal year 2017.”

As advocates search for answers and justice following Camila’s death, there are still unanswered questions regarding the horrific death of Roxsana Hernández, another trans woman, while in Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody last May. An independently conducted autopsy found that Roxsana likely languished without care for days before she was transferred to a hospital. The forensic expert also found that she had likely been beaten before her death. ICE, of course, has tried to discredit this report.

When it comes to the recent deaths of the two women, “El Salvador’s National Civil Police and the country’s attorney general have not classified either murder as a hate crime, in part, because Lolita and Camila died in public hospitals where the reports that were made did not mention they were victims of violence.” Odaly’s said, “I feel outraged, insecure and even more so I am afraid of any reaction of a homophobic or transphobic person who can harm us while walking in the streets.”

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