Journalist Targeted by Mexican Military Fights Deportation after Failed Asylum Request

Pictures of journalists recently murdered in different Mexican states lay on the ground at Independence Angel square during a protest by journalists in Mexico City, on May 16, 2017
AFP
El Paso, TX

A former Mexican journalist is fighting deportation after his claims for asylum were denied by an immigration judge and his appeals were also turned down. While the case has garnered much attention from international press freedom groups, found him unconvincing. 

Emilio Gutierrez Soto, a former reporter for Diario del Noroeste, fled Mexico with his son Oscar in June 2008 after the journalist claimed he received threats and harassment by the Mexican military, the UT Knight Center for Journalism reported. The specific threats are not listed, however, the information available from the time revealed that Gutierrez Soto’s home was raided by military forces searching for weapons. It remains unclear if the journalist was physically assaulted at the time.

In recent days,  various press freedom groups have labeled Mexico as the most dangerous place for journalists due to the escalating number of journalists killed, assaulted and threatened by Mexican drug cartels or corrupt public officials; however, none of those attacks appear to have been carried out by Mexican military forces. 

During Gutierrez’s flight, he made his way from Ascención, Chihuahua, to the international port of entry in El Paso, Texas, where the two requested asylum, The Latin American Herald Tribune was quoted by the UT Knight Center in reporting the case.

By July 2017, an immigration judge denied Gutierrez his asylum claim and by November, his request for an appeal was denied. Since then, Gutierrez’s attorney has filed various legal measures seeking to stop his removal and reopen the case. Meanwhile, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement immediately begun the removal process, however, the former journalist was granted an emergency stay.

In recent weeks, multiple journalism and human rights groups have rallied around Gutierrez. According to the National Press Club during a live-streamed conference from an immigration detention center, Gutierrez said he had a death sentence. “They are waiting for me. As soon as I am deported, I will be killed.” It remains unclear if the specific military officials that allegedly threatened Gutierrez almost a decade ago remain in Chihuahua, have retired, or rotated out of the area.

The journalist claimed that the threats from the Mexican military began in 2005 after he wrote articles about the tactics used to crack down on drug gangs. Shortly after, according to the Latin American Herald Tribune, Gutierrez’s home was raided presumably searching for weapons and drugs. Gutierrez claimed that a fellow journalist told him the military was planning to kill him.

While the LAHT framed the stories about the “tactics used by the military in it’s crackdown on drug gangs,” the UT Knight Center dubbed the reports about “alleged civilian abuses” and in another article called it “alleged abuses against civilians by military members.” According to the National Press Club, the stories dealt with corruption within the military and troops robbing citizens. The stories make no mention of cartel activities, nor the bloody war that has taken place in Chihuahua between the Sinaloa Cartel and its rivals in Juarez–the murder capital of the world. 

At the time when Gutierrez was working as a journalist, Chihuahua saw an escalation of cartel violence as rivals sought lucrative drug corridors into El Paso, Texas. The bloodshed was also tied to the use of the Mexican military rather than corrupt police.  

The National Press Club reported that the judge questioned Gutierrez’s press credentials and the “threats on his life if he returned.” Gutierrez claims to be in fear from the Mexican military and officials. It remains unclear if the specific individuals feared by the journalist continue to operate in Chihuahua.

Ildefonso Ortiz is an award-winning journalist with Breitbart Texas. He co-founded the Cartel Chronicles project with Brandon Darby and Stephen K. Bannon.  You can follow him on Twitter and on Facebook. He can be contacted at Iortiz@breitbart.com.

Brandon Darby is managing director and editor-in-chief of Breitbart Texas. He co-founded the Cartel Chronicles project with Ildefonso Ortiz and Stephen K. Bannon. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook. He can be contacted at bdarby@breitbart.com.

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