What does it take for a Mexican journalist whose life is in danger to get asylum in the U.S.?

 As is not uncommon in the broken labyrinth that is the American immigration-justice system, the Mexican journalist Emilio Gutiérrez Soto’s asylum case dragged on for years.  Photograph by Bill Wechter / Getty

As is not uncommon in the broken labyrinth that is the American immigration-justice system, the Mexican journalist Emilio Gutiérrez Soto’s asylum case dragged on for years.

Photograph by Bill Wechter / Getty

By Steve Coll in The New Yorker:

"For years, Emilio Gutiérrez Soto worked as a reporter and Jack-of-all-trades for El Diario del Noroeste in Ascensión, a town of about fifteen thousand people in Mexico’s northern Chihuahua state. “It was just regular everyday news—the crime beat, sports, entertainment, social events,” he told me recently. In addition to reporting and writing, Gutiérrez Soto sold ads and kept the office accounts.

In 2005, while covering crime, he interviewed victims of assaults and robberies at a hotel called La Estrella, in Puerto Palomas, another town in Chihuahua. “The people I interviewed told me that the criminals were dressed in military attire,” he recalled. He wrote up the story, and its publication “made the military very angry.” A lieutenant colonel in the military summoned him by telephone to a meeting in Ascensión. There, according to court papers that Gutiérrez Soto filed, a group of about twenty soldiers, led by General Alfonso García Vega, demanded that Gutiérrez Soto stop reporting about the military and apologize. They also told him that he was being placed under “close surveillance.”

The reporter consulted his newspaper colleagues about what to do. “My editor told me that I was free to do whatever I chose,” he recalled. “I decided to go public.” The next day, he wrote a story under the headline “Members of the Military Threaten Reporter’s Life.” He withheld his byline. It “was a decision by the newsroom,” he told me. “We knew some of what we were reporting was sensitive, so we decided to sign a lot of the stories ‘by the staff.’ ” He wasn’t sure that the strategy would protect him, he said, because “I had my own writing style, so I was pretty easy to identify.” But he agreed to remove his name—a decision that would later have consequences in American immigration court."  Continue reading