Transgender Asylum Seeker Dies In ICE Custody


Johana Medina Leon, a 25-year-old trans woman originally from El Salvador, died this weekend after being detained by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement at a privately run detention facility in New Mexico. Leon was taken to a hospital in El Paso, Texas last Tuesday after she reported having chest pain. She died just a few days later. Leon, who entered the United States in mid-April at the port of entry in El Paso, had passed her credible fear asylum interview on May 18, but she was only “paroled from custody” on the day she went to the hospital.

It appears that Leon, who had tested positive for HIV, did not receive adequate medical care while at the Otero County Processing Center. Otero has previously faced criticism for mistreating gay and trans immigrants in their custody. Earlier in March, immigrant rights advocates detailed how LGBTQ immigrants faced rampant sexual harassment and abuse from both other immigrants and guards at the facility.

Transgender asylum seeker dies after six weeks in ICE custody