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Transgender Members Of The Caravan Are Having A Hard Time Finding Sponsors In The US

TIJUANA — Attorneys for transgender members of the caravan are rushing to find people willing to house them in the United States while their asylum cases play out in court, in hopes that the would-be immigrants won't have to wait for months in detention for their cases to be decided.

A quick release from detention for transgender members of the caravan — who, of all the caravan members, likely have the best chance of meeting US standards for asylum — depends on their having a sponsor: someone willing to house and support them financially after they're released.

It's turning out to be a difficult task, according to Allegra Love, an attorney and executive director of the Santa Fe Dreamers Project, which is taking on the transgender women's cases, which Love said described as a "slam-dunk."

"They have great asylum cases, and there's no need for them to be detained," Love told BuzzFeed News. But finding sponsors so they can be released is difficult. "You really are asking a lot of someone," Love said. "You're dealing with a group of people who need a lot of support and care. ... It's not like adopting a kitten — you're taking an actual human being with individual needs."

There were 22 transgender women in the spring caravan and all but one — a woman who died after being in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody — were released to a sponsor, Love said.

The need to get the transgender people out of detention quickly is even more urgent in light of new information released about the death of Roxsana Hernández Rodriguez, the trans woman who traveled with the spring caravan and died in ICE custody after turning herself in for asylum, Love said. An independent autopsy released this week found that Hernández appeared to have been physically abused before she died due to complications from HIV.

The Daily Beast, which was the first to report on the results, said that the autopsy found Hernández had bruises on her hands and abdomen, evidence of blunt-force trauma “indicative of blows, and/or kicks, and possible strikes with a blunt object.”

Hernández, 33, died at a hospital in Albuquerque after being held at the Cibola County Correctional Center, a federal prison facility in Milan, New Mexico, that CoreCivic, one of the largest private prison companies in the US, operates under contracts with ICE. The transgender women in this caravan will all likely be sent there because the facility has a dedicated trans pod.

Inadequate medical care, poor mental health services, and the liberal use of solitary confinement as punishment are common complaints that Love said she hears from recently released immigrants.

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