In May 2008, Mexican soldiers burst into Emilio Gutiérrez-Soto’s home and ransacked it. A month later, a friend of Gutiérrez with contacts in the military, warned him he had been placed on a hit list. His offense: Being a journalist. To Gutiérrez, the message was clear — his stories about corrupt soldiers for El Diario Noreste would no longer be tolerated. So, in June 2008, accompanied by his 15-year-old son Oscar, he fled to the U.S.
The past 11 years have put Gutiérrez through a Kafkaesque tour of the U.S. immigration system. Initially, Immigration and Customs Enforcement allowed him to stay and work in the U.S. while seeking asylum. Years passed, and in 2017, his asylum request was denied, and he was ordered deported.
The case was reopened after the National Press Club, along with 18 other journalism organizations, joined an appeal of the asylum denial. In March, however, the immigration judge, Robert Hough, declared Gutiérrez had been unable to show that he would be in danger if he returned to Mexico and reissued his deportation order.
Gutiérrez is living in Michigan, where he recently completed a Knight-Wallace Fellowship at the University of Michigan. Members of Congress have weighed in on his behalf; the National Press Club and the Journalism Institute, together with the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, have taken a lead role in seeking ICE documents related to Gutiérrez’ case. ICE has released only some heavily redacted documents. Our work on behalf of Gutiérrez continues.