National Press Club effort to free Mexican journalist reaches 'crucial phase'
January 5, 2018 | By Wire staff report | email@example.com
The National Press Club's effort to prevent the deportation of Mexican journalist Emilio Gutierrez has reached a “crucial phase,” Club executive director William McCarren said Thursday, as U.S. immigration officials reconsider his petition for asylum.
Gutierrez and his son Oscar have been confined at an El Paso, Texas, detention facility since Dec. 7 after an attempt by Immigration and Customs Enforcement to deport them was halted by the Bureau of Immigration Appeals. The bureau last week agreed to review Gutierrez’s case.
“We are now entering a crucial phase of Emilio’s case where we are hopeful he will be released from El Paso detention and, along with Oscar, be allowed to resume his life in Las Cruces [New Mexico],” said McCarren, who visited the journalist and his son in El Paso on Dec. 22. “He is not a criminal and he does not belong in jail. Detention is not supposed to be punishment but it does seem like he is being punished now. We would like to see him released on humanitarian parole so he can work with his lawyer in what will be an important appeal that could lead to asylum.”
Guiterrez fled Mexico in 2008 with Oscar, who was then 15, and sought asylum in the United States after a confidential source informed him his reporting on official corruption had landed him on a “hit list.” Mexico has become one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists, and at least a dozen were murdered in the country last year.
The Club honored Guiterrez with its John Aubuchon Press Freedom Award last year. It has been a major participant in a campaign to free him that has included a petition drive that has garnered approximately 24,000 signatures.
The initiative uses the hashtag #FreeEmilio.
The Club’s Press Freedom Team and its nonprofit Journalism Institute have led the Club's effort on behalf of Gutierrez.