The National Press Club Advocates For Release Of Mexican Journalist Detained In Texas

Our daily roundup of Texas headlines.

By Becky FogelDecember 27, 2017 1:39 pm

The Standard’s news roundup gives you a quick hit of interesting, sometimes irreverent, and breaking news stories from all over the state.

Texans had a need for speed this year. The Houston Chronicle asked the Texas Department of Public Safety about the fastest speeding tickets between January 1 and November 28 2017. All 230 incidents that DPS shared were over 120 mph. The fastest alleged speeder clocked in at 181 mph. For reference, the highest speed limit in Texas is 80 mph.

A four-alarm fire struck the historic square in downtown Denton before the sun rose Tuesday morning. Several buildings were damaged, but there were no reports of injuries.

Julie Glover oversees downtown development for the city of Denton. She told KERA News the Downtown Mini Mall – home to numerous small vendors – was hit hardest.

“And it was filled with little booths, lot of books and papers and coins and records and vintage clothing. Everything in there was flammable.”

Officials are still trying to determine what caused the fire.

The National Press Club and its nonprofit Journalism Institute are taking a rare step: they’re calling for the release of a detained Mexican journalist.

Emilio Gutierrez and his son have been seeking asylum in the United States for almost 10 years. Gutierrez says his life is threatened after reporting on cartels and military corruption in Mexico. But earlier this year his request for asylum was denied. And just this month, immigration agents in West Texas nearly deported him during a routine check-in. Now, Gutierrez is being held in a detention center in El Paso.

Kathy Kiely, a press freedom fellow with the Journalism Institute, says just two months ago, Gutierrez accepted an award from the National Press Club on behalf of journalists in Mexico – one of the most dangerous countries in the world for the press. The Committee to Protect Journalists says six reporters have been murdered in Mexico this year.

“To go from accepting an award at the National Press Club on the dais before a national audience, before a packed ballroom to being in shackles in jail, seems a little extreme, but he’s being treated like a criminal,” Kiely says.

Kieley says that’s an appalling contrast.  “And so we are asking the board of immigration appeals to both grant him asylum and to parole him immediately.”

The National Press Club has also started an online petition demanding Gutierrez’s release on that more than 22,000 people have signed. Last week, U.S. Rep., and Senate candidate, Beto O’Rourke, an El Paso Democrat, called for his release.

Kiely says they’re looking for more members of Congress to speak out. “We’re very hopeful members of the Texas delegation will be supportive. We’d like to see support from members of the New Mexico delegation because before he was detained by ICE, Emilio and his son Oscar were living and working in Las Cruces, New Mexico.”

Kiely adds the National Press Club also hopes immigration officials will reconsider plans to deport Gutierrez.

“Absent they’re doing that it looks an awful lot like Emilio is being punished for being a journalist and being Mexican,” says Kiely. Gutierrez’s lawyer Eduardo Beckett got word Wednesday from the Board of Immigration Appeals, which is part of the U.S. Department of Justice, that they will reopen his case and reinstate his appeal of the decision to deny asylum. Beckett means that now Gutierrez can’t be legally deported and has an opportunity to convince the Board of Immigration Appeals he deserves asylum.