Emilio Gutierrez, seen here with Associated Press journalist Michele Salcedo, received a press freedom award from the National Press Club in October. (Noel St. John/National Press Club)
Mexican journalist Emilio Gutiérrez fled his home in the state of Chihuahua in 2008. After reporting on cartels and military corruption, he says his life was under threat and he’d been put on a “hit list.” Now, after nearly ten years in the U.S., Gutiérrez was arrested by immigration agents last week and told he would be deported, according to his lawyer.
Gutiérrez’s application for asylum was denied earlier this year. His lawyer, Eduardo Beckett, then filed an appeal. It was still in process last week when Gutiérrez visited ICE offices in El Paso for a routine check-in. That’s when he and his 24-year-old son, Oscar, were arrested.
In a press conference on Monday, Beckett said that agents handcuffed the two men, and were planning to take them across the border. Beckett was able to put a hold on that. He says Gutiérrez was then moved to a detention facility in the remote West Texas town of Sierra Blanca.
“They could’ve easily detained him here,” says Beckett. “The detention center, which is El Paso detention center, is within 10 minutes from my office. They have the space. They could have easily left him there. But they decided for unknown reasons to take him 90 miles away.”
Beckett believes Gutiérrez could be held in the West Texas facility during his appeals process, which could take between 6 months and a year.