Transgender asylum seeker dies after 6 weeks in ICE custody

A transgender woman from El Salvador seeking asylum in the U.S. died on Saturday in a Texas hospital four days after being released from custody, officials and advocates said.

Johana Medina Leon, 25, complained of chest pains and was brought to Del Sol Medical Center in El Paso, Texas, on Tuesday, Immigration and Customs Enforcement said. That same day, ICE said she was processed for release on parole. Medina Leon died on the first day of pride month.

"This is yet another unfortunate example of an individual who illegally enters the United States with an untreated, unscreened medical condition,” said Corey A. Price, field office director for ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) in El Paso.

Allegra Love, the executive director of the Sante Fe Dreamers Project, a nonprofit that provides free legal service to immigrants, said Medina Leon did nothing "illegal" when she fled to the U.S following Department of Homeland Security protocol

"She didn't violate a single law coming to the U.S. to ask for political asylum," Love said.

Medina Leon, who was known to friends as Joa, had been detained in the U.S. since mid-AprilOn May 18, Medina Leon received a positive credible fear finding, ICE said. Advocates told NBC News Leon was seeking asylum in the U.S. as a transgender woman.

Medina Leon was being held at Otero County Processing Center, a private detention center in New Mexico where the ACLU and the Santa Fe Dreamer Project recently alleged poor treatment of and "unconscionable conditions" for LGBTQ immigrants. In a letter sent to ICE, the groups said "ICE’s practices at Otero have created an unsafe environment" for the LGBTQ detainees in Otero.

Medina Leon fell while in ICE Custody, where she also tested positive for HIV.

In a Facebook post about Medina Leon's death, Diversidad Sin Fronteras, an advocacy group for LGBTQ refugees, said that Medina Leon had pleaded to ICE for medical attention. She “became extremely ill and unconscious” the group said.

Medina Leon's death comes almost exactly one year after Roxsana Hernandez, 33, a transgender migrant from Honduras, died of AIDS complications in ICE custody.

Kris Hayashi, the executive director of the Transgender Law Center, said in a statement the group is "devastated and outraged, but not surprised" by the news of Leon's death.

Referring to the deaths of both Hernandez and Medina Leon, Hayashi wrote, "these deaths are a direct result of U.S. government policy, and will continue unless we force dramatic change."

In the wake of Hernandez's death in ICE custody, activists and advocates have been sounding alarms on the treatment of LGBTQ migrants in ICE Custody.

On Friday, the Transgender Law Center filed a lawsuit against DHS and ICE suit "for illegally withholding information" about Hernandez's death, and a NBC News investigation found that immigrants are often forced into solitary confinement in U.S. detention centers for being LGBTQ.

When a spokesperson for Diversidad Sin Fronteras visited Medina Leon in the hospital, she said we was deeply cornered about the young women's fate. "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."

Love, of Sante Fe Dreamers Project, told NBC News, "I give an interview a week about the medical conditions for trans women," which she described as alarming and dangerous.

"If anyone wants to pretend to be shocked, did you miss a year ago when a trans woman died in custody in Albuquerque?"

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Reunited family fights for asylum
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Reunited family fights for asylum
Abisai Montes Marroquin, 11, spends the afternoon at the mall with mother Maria Marroquin Perdomo and father Edward Montes Lopez in New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S., July 16, 2018. REUTERS/Loren Elliott 
Maria Marroquin Perdomo waits for toenail polish to dry after getting a pedicure at a mall in New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S., July 16, 2018. Marroquin Perdomo said her toes were in bad shape following the arduous journey from Honduras to the Mexico-U.S. border and her time spent in detention. REUTERS/Loren Elliott 
Abisai Montes Marroquin, 11, and his parents Edward Montes Lopez and Maria Marroquin Perdomo return to the apartment Montes Lopez shares with other family members in New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S., July 16, 2018. The apartment was overcrowded when Montes Marroquin and Marroquin Perdomo arrived, so Montes Lopez began talking of finding an apartment for the three of them. REUTERS/Loren Elliott 
Maria Marroquin Perdomo gets a pedicure at a mall in New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S., July 16, 2018. Marroquin Perdomo said her toes were in bad shape following the arduous journey from Honduras to the Mexico-U.S. border and her time spent in detention. REUTERS/Loren Elliott 
Abisai Montes Marroquin, 11, sits with his father Edward Montes Lopez and mother Maria Marroquin Perdomo while video-chatting with family back in Honduras on their first night together in New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S., July 15, 2018. REUTERS/Loren Elliott 
Maria Marroquin Perdomo and her 11-year-old son Abisai look for their gate before flying to New Orleans, Louisiana, at Valley International Airport in Harlingen, Texas, U.S., July 15, 2018. It was the first time either had ever been on an airplane. REUTERS/Loren Elliott 
Abisai Montes Marroquin, 11, meets his father, Edward Montes Lopez, for the first time at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport in New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S., July 15, 2018. Montes Lopez hadn't seen his son since he was an infant. REUTERS/Loren Elliott 
Abisai Montes Marroquin, 11, helps his mother Maria Marroquin Perdomo set up her new cell phone while at a mall in New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S., July 16, 2018. REUTERS/Loren Elliott 
Abisai Montes Marroquin, 11, arrives at La Posada Providencia shelter shortly after being reunified with his mother in San Benito, Texas, U.S., July 14, 2018. REUTERS/Loren Elliott 
Abisai Montes Marroquin, 11, runs toward his father, Edward Montes Lopez, as he meets him for the first time at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport in New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S., July 15, 2018. Montes Lopez hadn't seen his son since he was an infant. REUTERS/Loren Elliott 
Maria Marroquin Perdomo and her 11-year-old son Abisai travel to New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S., from Harlingen, Texas, U.S., July 15, 2018. It was the first time either had ever been on an airplane. REUTERS/Loren Elliott 
Maria Marroquin Perdomo and 11-year-old son Abisai sit at their gate before flying to New Orleans, Louisiana, at Valley International Airport in Harlingen, Texas, U.S., July 15, 2018. It was the first time either had ever been on an airplane. REUTERS/Loren Elliott 
Abisai Montes Marroquin, 11, plays after arriving at La Posada Providencia shelter in San Benito, Texas, U.S., July 14, 2018. The boy was reunified with his mother hours earlier. REUTERS/Loren Elliott 
Abisai Montes Marroquin, 11, looks at messages and drawings made for him by his mother and the fellow mothers she befriended while the women were detained at the Port Isabel detention center, before bed at La Posada Providencia shelter in San Benito, Texas, U.S., July 14, 2018. The boy was reunified with his mother hours earlier. REUTERS/Loren Elliott 
After being reunified with her 11-year-old son, Maria Marroquin Perdomo cries during a phone call with the boy's father in Brownsville, Texas, U.S., July 14, 2018. REUTERS/Loren Elliott 
Maria Marroquin Perdomo and her 11-year-old son Abisai arrive at La Posada Providencia shelter with the help of immigration attorney Jodi Goodwin, in San Benito, Texas, U.S., July 14, 2018. REUTERS/Loren Elliott 
Maria Marroquin Perdomo and her 11-year-old son Abisai stop at a gas station for a snack after departing the Casa Padre facility, where the two were reunified, in Brownsville, Texas, U.S., July 14, 2018. Marroquin Perdomo's attorney drove the pair from the gas station to La Posada Providencia shelter in San Benito, Texas, U.S., to spend their first night together. REUTERS/Loren Elliott 
Maria Marroquin Perdomo and her 11-year-old son Abisai drive away from the Casa Padre facility in the backseat of her attorney's truck minutes after mother and son were reunified, in Brownsville, Texas, U.S., July 14, 2018. Abisai was held at Casa Padre while his mother was detained at the Port Isabel detention facility. REUTERS/Loren Elliott
Maria Marroquin Perdomo reacts to the news that her detained son had been cleared for release, at La Posada Providencia shelter in San Benito, Texas, U.S., July 14, 2018. Marroquin Perdomo headed to the facility holding him minutes later with her attorney for their reunification. REUTERS/Loren Elliott 
Maria Marroquin Perdomo passes the time before a hopeful reunification with her detained son while staying at La Posada Providencia shelter in San Benito, Texas, U.S., July 14, 2018. REUTERS/Loren Elliott 
Maria Marroquin Perdomo is driven by a local volunteer from the Port Isabel detention center near Los Fresnos, Texas, U.S., to La Posada Providencia shelter in San Benito, Texas, U.S., July 13, 2018. She is clutching release paperwork including information regarding the location of her detained son. REUTERS/Loren Elliott 
Maria Marroquin Perdomo and her 11-year-old son Abisai drive away from the Casa Padre facility in the backseat of her attorney's truck minutes after mother and son were reunified in Brownsville, Texas, U.S., July 14, 2018. Abisai was held at Casa Padre while his mother was detained at the Port Isabel detention facility. REUTERS/Loren Elliott 
Maria Marroquin Perdomo gets settled with the help of Sister Margaret Mertens at La Posada Providencia shelter in San Benito, Texas, U.S., shortly after her release from the Port Isabel detention center, July 13, 2018. REUTERS/Loren Elliott 
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