Advocacy group says trans woman was killed after US deported her back to El Salvador

An transgender advocacy group says a trans women was killed shortly after the U.S. deported her back to her native El Salvador.

Camila Díaz Córdova, 31, fled from the country to the U.S. last year via a migrant caravan to escape violent threats against her life, Asociación Aspidh Arcoiris Trans (ASPIDH) told NBC News on Thursday.

Mónica Linares, director of ASPIDH, had known Díaz Córdova for 10 years and said she was frequently threatened, including documented cases reported to El Salvador’s National Civil Police in 2014.

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Díaz Córdova petitioned for asylum while in the U.S. but was deported back to El Salvador sometime four to five months ago, Linares told the outlet.

She was reported missing by a friend in late January and ASPIDH discovered she had been admitted to a hospital in San Salvador following an attack.

Díaz Córdova was found with multiple injuries in the municipality of Soyapango, The Washington Blade reported. It is unclear what happened to her. 

Díaz Córdova died in the hospital several days later on Feb. 3.

“Camila’s death makes the transgender community in El Salvador feel insecure,” Linares told NBC News. “There’s a failure of protection in El Salvador and a failure of protection in the United States. Camila had a lot of evidence, and she still was not given asylum.”

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) told The Hill that Cordova had previously applied for admission into the U.S. at the Otay Mesa Port of Entry in San Diego in August 2017 but did not have proper entry documents.

"After an interview and inspection by officers with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Diaz Cordova was processed for expedited removal and transferred to ICE custody. On August 23, 2017, Diaz Cordova was placed into removal proceedings before an immigration judge with the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR)," Lauren Mack, an ICE spokeswoman in San Diego, said in a statement.

"On November 1, 2017, Diaz Cordova appeared in immigration court and asked the immigration judge for return to El Salvador. After advising Diaz Cordova as to the right to pursue applications for relief from removal, the immigration judge issued a final order of removal and both parties waived appeal rights. On November 22, 2017, Diaz Cordova was removed to El Salvador," she added.

ICE did not immediately respond to an inquiry about any subsequent attempts to enter the country.

El Salvador is one of the most violent countries in the world and LGBTQ people are particularly at risk.

Díaz Córdova was the second trans women killed in El Salvador this month after a woman named Lolita was killed with a machete on Feb. 8, The Washington Blade Reported.

El Salvador’s National Civil Police and the country’s attorney general reportedly have not classified either murder as a hate crime.

The United Nations in 2017 called for an investigation into crimes against sexual minorities after seven transgender women were killed in El Salvador although local advocates said the number was likely much higher, NBC noted.

At least 25 transgender women were killed in 2016, local organizations told the outlet.

– This story was updated Feb. 22 at 7:30 p.m. with additional information from ICE