Trans woman denied asylum by Trump administration murdered after deportation to El Salvador: report

A trans woman deported by President Trump's administration was murdered in her native El Salvador

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published February 20, 2019 2:11PM (EST)

Central American migrants walking to the U.S. start their day departing Ciudad Hidalgo, Mexico, Sunday, Oct. 21, 2018.  (Getty/AP/Salon)
Central American migrants walking to the U.S. start their day departing Ciudad Hidalgo, Mexico, Sunday, Oct. 21, 2018. (Getty/AP/Salon)

President Donald Trump's tough anti-immigrant policies look to have resulted in the death of a trans woman who was murdered in El Salvador after being denied asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border.

According to Salvadoran trans advocacy group Asociación Aspidh Arcoiris Trans, a woman known as Camila (or Aurora) was murdered in the municipality of Soyapango outside that country's capital after being sent back by the Trump administration. As The Washington Blade first reported, Camila first went missing in late January and it was ultimately discovered that she had been admitted to Rosales National Hospital in San Salvador on Jan. 31 after suffering multiple injuries. She died three days later.

Activists told the Blade that Camila had tried to immigrate to the United States because of threats she had received in El Salvador and had been part of one of the migrant caravans that left Central America in 2018. She was quickly deported to El Savador after reportedly being denied asylum in the U.S. under the Trump administration's stricter requirements and died 4 to 5 months later.

While it is unclear whether Camila died in a hate crime, El Salvador has one of the highest per capita murder rates in the world, and its law enforcement officials are widely perceived as being lax on pursuing hate crime investigations against trans people despite laws intended to protect their rights. Tragically, Camila is not the first trans woman to be murdered in El Salvador. Earlier this month a trans woman named Lolita was killed with a machete in Sonsonate. No additional information is available about the crime, which like Camila's death has not been categorized as a hate crime.

"The Blade earlier this month confirmed U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement was housing 45 trans women at a privately-run detention center in Texas," The Blade reported. "Some of the detained trans women for whom the D.C.-based Casa Ruby is working to provide housing are from El Salvador."

Camila's death highlights a controversial issue for the Trump administration — namely, its extreme anti-immigrant policies. Although Trump was blocked from implementing his asylum ban in November, he ultimately was allowed to put it into effect.

"What we know is that undocumented Americans have been conflated with asylum seekers, who have been conflated with refugees," Ashley Houghton, tactical campaigns manager at Amnesty International USA, told Salon during the government shutdown. "We are, unfortunately, seeing a challenge of two types: A system that was already overburdened and that did not have enough immigration judges has seen an additional push, and the shutdown has had an extraordinary impact on those courts."

Houghton added, "We're also seeing a brand new 'Stay in Mexico' plan where immigrants and asylum-seekers are going to be deported to Mexico while their case is being heard." Her observation was that "what you're seeing is this exponential human rights violation where people are not just not having their cases being heard in the United States, but in some cases -- no matter whether or not their case has merit -- they are sent to Mexico to await their asylum case to be heard."

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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All Salon Asylum Donald Trump El Salvador Migrant Caravan News & Politics Trans Transgender