News Americas, MIAMI, FL, Fri. April 20, 2018: Often, when Donald Trump and the alt-right’s narrative of illegal immigration, refugees and asylum seekers are told, it is often always the same – criminal immigrants, MS 13 gang members and terrorists – who want to murder native-born Americans.
But the round-up of Trump’s so-called ‘bad-hombres’ has now shockingly extended to innocent, hard working journalists who are currently locked up in US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, (ICE), detention centers like common criminals.
It is a sad turn of events in a country that was built on the backs of immigrants and one which has always taken the tired, the poor and “huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”
Meet Emilio Gutiérrez Soto. This award-winning Mexican journalist fled for his life from a small Northern Mexico town because of stories he wrote there. Faced with phone threats, soldiers ransacking his house at midnight and a report that he was facing a Mexican military death plot, Gutiérrez and his 15-year-old son drove across the U.S. border with only $58.14 in the summer of 2008, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
But they were placed in an ICE detention center for seven months before being allowed to finally apply for asylum. Sadly, after a decade-long bid Gutiérrez and his son have landed back into ICE custody because their asylum request was denied. Now, this journalist and his son, who have committed no crimes; told no lies and certainly covered up no money trails, are facing deportation back to a land where they could be killed.
Then there is Manuel Duran, a well-known Spanish language journalist in Memphis, TN, who is now also in ICE custody, facing deportation. Duran, 42, who was born in El Salvador, was simply doing his job when he was arrested on April 3, 2018 by the Memphis Police Department after live-streaming demonstrators in Memphis protesting immigration detention and enforcement policies.
Prosecutors eventually dropped the charges but unfortunately, ICE agents were waiting in court to seize him because of his undocumented status. Now, despite the fact that Duran’s only crime was working hard despite having no legal working paper, this hardworking community journalist and entrepreneur is now facing deportation back to a country he long left behind. So much for wanting skilled immigrants in the good old USA!
Meanwhile, last May, Mexican journalist Martín Méndez Pineda, fled Mexico in fear of his life because of stories he covered. According to Reporters Without Border, he had faced death threats over the telephone for months, prompting him to leave and seek asylum here.
Bigger mistake! Fleeing Mexico he was greeted like a murderer with was imprisonment in three different Texas detention centers. Finally, after spending 100 days in detention, he decided that it was better to go back to the “hell” he knew than to continue to live locked up in a US hell.
As he wrote: “Maltreatment, humiliation and abuse by local authorities became increasingly disagreeable, as I was transferred to three different detention centers and in each one of them, the psychological torment increased, damaging my health further. The reason why I made the decision to leave that country is because I prefer to be in another nation than to live locked in that place in which, from the first day I entered, I recognized as (the same hell).”
As Alan Dickerson, a member of the Detained Migrant Solidarity Committee, summed it up accurately for The Dallas Morning News: “The government is forcing people to decide between being locked up indefinitely and going back to somewhere where people want to murder them.”
This is the new ‘normal’ in Trump’s America, even for upstanding, hardworking, skilled journalists. What a disgrace!