National Press Club

Club to update developments on jailed journalist at news conference, tomorrow 2 p.m.

January 17, 2018

The National Press Club and its non-profit affiliate arm, the National Press Club Journalism Institute, will hold a news conference at 2 p.m. tomorrow (Friday) to discuss developments in the asylum case of Mexican journalist Emilio Gutierrez.

The event, to be held in the First Amendment Lounge, will feature remarks by Club officers and staff as well as attorney Eduardo Beckett, who is representing Gutierrez pro bono.

Gutierrez, who last October accepted the Club’s John Aubuchon Award for Press Freedom on behalf of Mexico’s journalists, is confined to the El Paso Detention Center while his asylum case is under consideration by the U.S. Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA). The Club has asked for his release but U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials have denied the request.

After receiving death threats In Mexco as a result of his reports on corruption in the military, Gutierrez and fled to the United States in 2008, requesting asylum as he and his then-15-year-old son Oscar came through the port of entry. After seven months in detention, during which time they were separated, the father and son were released into the community while they awaited adjudication of their asylum case.

Nine years later, an El Paso immigration judge ruled against the asylum case. While lawyers for the Gutierrezes prepared an appeal, ICE tried to deport them to Mexico, now the most dangerous country in the western hemisphere for journalists.

An emergency stay by the BIA stopped the deportation. The board has since extended that stay to allow for a full review of Emilio Gutierrez’s asylum case but ICE refuses to release him, citing President Donald Trump’s order to prioritize deportations of immigrants.

The El Paso ICE director is using an incident that happened over 18 years ago to insinuate that Gutierrez only came to the U.S. to seek employment and live in the U.S. His attorney believes that this reported incident has been misrepresented by Department of Homeland Security, and is ultimately irrelevant to his asylum claim. Details will be presented at the news conference.

The Washington Post, the Houston Chronicle and dozens of professional journalism organizations are supporting the National Press Club’s call for the Gutierrezes’ release. Nearly 90,000 people have signed the Club's #FreeEmilio petition at Change.org.