RTDNA and its Voice of the First Amendment Task Force today renews its call for the U.S. government to halt deportation proceedings against, and grant asylum to, Mexican journalist Emilio Gutierrez.
Today, the National Press Club, which has led the effort to keep Gutierrez in the United States, will hand-deliver approximately 17,000 petition signatures to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention center near El Paso, Texas, where Gutierrez is being held – sometimes in shackles – pending the outcome of an appeal of his impending deportation.
National Press Club Executive Director Bill McCarren and Gutierrez’ attorney, Eduardo Beckett, will also hold a news conference at 1:00 p.m. MST at the La Fe Cultural & Technology Center, Rear Building, 721 Center S. Ochoa, El Paso, Texas.
One month ago today, RTDNA joined with the National Press Club and other press freedom organizations in calling on ICE to halt what then appeared to be the likelihood that Gutierrez and his son, who fled their home state of Chihuahua, Mexico, in 2008 after receiving death threats, would be deported almost immediately.
Gutierrez’ attorney went to a judge to seek an order prohibiting his deportation. The judge refused, so Gutierrez’ lawyer went to the U.S. Board of Immigration Appeals, which stayed the deportation. Gutierrez and his son were then ordered detained at the ICE facility near El Paso pending the outcome of his appeal.
Gutierrez and his son surrendered to U.S. immigration officers in Santa Fe, New Mexico, shortly after the Mexican military raided their home in apparent retaliation for a newspaper report Gutierrez had written exposing military corruption. His story revealed that some Mexican troops had been robbing their own country’s citizens as they attempted to enter this country. Gutierrez also received a tip from a reliable source that his name had been placed on a “hit list.”
The journalist’s asylum request languished in the federal bureaucracy for eight long years, until 2016, when a judge denied his request. Gutierrez was released, only to be summoned to an ICE office a few weeks after he publicly criticized U.S. immigration policy while accepting the National Press Club’s 2017 John Aubuchon Press Freedom Award.
Shelley stated in RTDNA’s original statement on the issue November 22: “Forcing Emilio Gutierrez to go back to Mexico is tantamount to giving him a death sentence. We call on the federal government to stop its apparently punitive efforts to deport him and put his safety in grave danger.”
The National Press Club gathered the signatures on a Change.org petition urging “the U.S. government to find a place for him here in the States or allow him to transit to a third country where he will be safe.” RTDNA Executive Director Dan Shelley signed the petition on behalf of RTDNA and its task force. Others who wish to sign the petition may do so here.
RTDNA formed the nonpartisan Voice of the First Amendment Task Force early this year to defend against threats to the First Amendment and news media access, and to help the public better understand why responsible journalism is essential to their daily lives. It is a founding partner of the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker, the archive of record for threats to press freedom throughout the nation. Reach out to the task force by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.