FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: CLAIM FILED AGAINST U.S. GOVERNMENT FOR TRANSGENDER IMMIGRANT’S DEATH
PRESS CONFERENCE: June 12, 2019, 1:00 p.m., Dolan Law Firm, 1438 Market Street, San Francisco, CA.
On June 11, 2019, the family of Johana Medina Leon filed a claim against the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE) and the Department of Homeland Security for denying her civil rights and thereby causing her death while she was being detained after crossing into the United States. In December of 2018, Johana, an El Salvadorian National, was threatened with physical violence based on her transgender status. She fled El Salvador in fear for her life to Mexico where she received a Humanitarian Visa. With her visa she traveled to an asylum center in Juarez, Mexico. While in Juarez, Johana was assigned a number for an appointment with the Customs and Boarder Control, ICE and the Department of Homeland Security where she sought asylum. Her fear of persecution was found to be credible and she was detained pending a hearing. Although she was given a court date, The CPB questioned her transgender status, as she had male genitalia, and housed her with males. Unlike other transwomen, she was not paroled pending a future court date and was, instead, sent to the ICE Otero County Processing Center in New Mexico.
Soon after arriving at Otero, Johana’s health rapidly deteriorated. Having been trained and employed as a nurse in El Salvador, she recognized that she needed IV fluids but her request for treatment was denied. She asked for water, sugar and salt so she could prepare her own IV but that request too was denied. In April and May Johana’s condition got progressively worse and, since she was being denied care, she asked to be deported so she could receive treatment. Her request was ignored, and her condition continued to deteriorate. On May 15, 2019, Johana appeared before a U.S. Magistrate to present her case for asylum where she was told that she would receive a decision in 8 days, and she was returned to ICE custody. On May 20th she spoke with her boyfriend in El Salvador and reported that her requests for treatment had been denied. On May 23 or 24, 2019, Johana was found unconscious and was taken by ICE to the Del Sol Medical Center Hospital in El Paso, TX. ICE apparently granted her release on her own recognizance right before she was dropped at the hospital. Over the next several days, Johana spoke with her boyfriend and family members reporting that her condition was worsening. On June 1, 2019, Johana’s family was notified that she had died as a result of pneumonia.
Johana’s family claims that the Government, in violation of Johana’s civil rights, negligently managed her care because of her nationality, her seeking asylum, and her transgender status; thereby causing her death.
Christopher Dolan, the family’s attorney, based in California, stated :“On the Statue of Liberty there is a famous poem by Emma Lazarus, known by all Americans, which states in part, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me . . .” The Trump Administration seems to have re- written the poem, to say “. . .and I will send them back abused, terrorized and dead.” Johana deserved to be protected by this Country as a human being seeking asylum. Instead, she was detained, humiliated, mistreated, and dumped at a hospital where she was not on the threshold of liberty; but, instead, on death’s door. We will get to the truth and hold this Government accountable for its callous disregard of Johana.
A representative of Johana’s family will be present via Skype, from El Salvador, to answer questions.
FOR INFORMATION CONTACT CHRIS DOLAN at 415-279-2604 or firstname.lastname@example.org
For access to the press conference via video conference go to: https://zoom.us/j/878557725