Mexican Journalist at the Hands of I.C.E. After Criticizing US Government
A Mexican journalist and his son risk deportation due to his criticism of the U.S. government’s immigration policy.
Mexican journalist, Emilio Gutierrez-Soto, and his son, Oscar, are currently facing serious ordeals at the hands of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (I.C.E.). The government claims that Gutierrez and his son should be deported because they are illegal aliens, but Gutierrez, who entered the U.S. as an asylum-seeker, claims that he is being targeted for deportation because he criticized the government. The case has now escalated to larger dimensions with federal court judges across several states getting involved.
Seeking Better Circumstances
On June 16, 2008, Gutierrez and his son were at the Antelope Wells Port of Entry in New Mexico, asking for asylum in the United States. I.C.E. officials said Gutierrez told of armed policemen invading his home on several occasions in Mexico, using trumped-up charges to arrest and execute him after he criticized the Mexican government in his journalism.
Gutierrez was said to have been referred to an entry site where Customs and Border Protection officers would interview him. Gutierrez said he was then sent to El Paso where his asylum request would be examined. He states he was then detained at the El Paso detention center for seven months, and was subsequently released and reunited with his son, who was a minor when they arrived. They were told to await a ruling on their asylum request, and stayed in New Mexico.
Though unhappy with the seven-month detainment in the I.C.E. facility, the father and son didn’t hear a thing for many years, and they settled into a quiet life. Gutierrez even bought a food truck. However, nine years later in 2017, immigration judge Robert Hough ruled that there was little to no evidence to support claims that Gutierrez would be in danger if deported back to Mexico. Hough even asked for proof that he was a journalist back home, but Gutierrez was not able to produce newspaper clippings containing his published work, so the court ordered for him to be deported.
The John Aubuchon Award
Shortly after the ruling, on October 4, 2017, Gutierrez was asked to receive an award on behalf of all Mexican journalists back home. He then spoke at the National Press Club Awards Gala in Washington D.C., berating the U.S. government for honoring journalists in other countries while putting journalists within the country into unfavorable circumstances. He cited his seven-month detention at El Paso and criticized the U.S. immigration policy.
Little did he know this act would set things in motion against him.
The All-Saving Paper Trail
Gutierrez’s legal team put in a request to the Board of Immigration Appeals (B.I.A.) to overturn Judge Hough’s deportation order, to no avail. The team then reached out to Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont for help, again to no avail.
Gutierrez was invited to appear before I.C.E. in El Paso, where he and his son were detained again for another eight months, during which Gutierrez’s food truck was stolen.
Ultimately, Gutierrez was placed in a car en-route to the Mexican border, where he and his son would be handed over to Mexican immigration authorities. In a last minute attempt to prevent the deportation, Gutierrez’s legal team filed a habeas corpus to try and obtain another court date on the grounds of unlawful detention. Shortly after, the team obtained email evidence showing that I.C.E. had connived to deport Gutierrez after speaking scathingly of the U.S. government. Based on these email proofs, published exclusively by Freedom of the Press Foundation, Federal District Judge David Guaderrama ordered I.C.E. to release Gutierrez moments before he was handed over to Mexican authorities.
On May 2, 2018, the University of Michigan awarded Gutierrez the Knight-Wallace fellowship, which enables him to attend a year-long program with full tuition and health benefits, along with a $75,000 stipend.
However, Gutierrez’s asylum request remains unapproved, and I.C.E. may move to arrest and deport him again in Michigan.