The journey of Mexican refugees in the borderland.
EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — The borderland has become an oasis for dozens of Mexican exiles that are in the search for political asylum escaping the Mexican drug war and violence. Mexican journalists, activists, businessman among others have opted to leave everything behind in the journey of a new beginning.
Dozens of Mexican nationals are pending the approval and review of the political asylum petitions and even though the probability of a successful outcome is low none of them are giving up.
It's been more than six years since the Mexican government declared war on the drug cartels. According to the federal government statistics, an estimated 100,000 were killed from 2006 to 2012, while almost 7,000 died this year.
“We have case after case were murders are happening and there are no police reports much less resolutions much less investigations,” Mexicanos en Exilio Attorney Carlos Spector said.
The list of those who died goes beyond criminals and police officers. The war forced many, including journalists Ricardo Chavez, Emilio Gutierrez and human rights activist Cipriana Jurado to leave.
“They called me and said; if you keep reporting this on the radio we're going to kill all your family,” Ricardo Chavez said.
“In that moment I felt so many emotions and a lump in my throat; The frustration is just so big,” Emilio Gutierrez said.
“I was kidnapped outside of my house the first thing i thought was of my children and you think you never will be free again,” human rights activist Cipriana Jurado said.
Chavez was a host for a popular morning radio show in Juarez reporting on homicides and drug related violence. His life changed when two of his nephews were killed.
"It's very hard because you get used to seeing taped off scenes that have nothing to do with you, but when you know that those who died are related to you, you get into shock," Chavez said.
Emilio Gutierrez worked for a local newspaper investigating crimes and their possible ties to the government. After two assassination attempts he decided it was time to leave. Cipriana Jurado constantly fought for human rights and became a popular advocate for justice.
“We didn't decide to come to the United States because we wanted to work or get a better life no; we got out to avoid being assassinated,” Jurado added.
These exiles say the journey has not been easy for them. Statistics show the process of political asylum is slow and harsh.
According to immigration attorney Carlos Spector most of those who seek asylum are arrested by U.S. immigration customs for months and getting out of prison can represent an uncertain style of life.
“Since that time the future of my life and my son’s is undefined that's a limbo,” Gutierrez added.
All three of them overcame the language barriers and like many others are contributing and working in our society.
Emilio owns a mobile food stand in Las Cruces, Ricardo is back on the air while Cipriana continues to fight for their cause.
“It's slowly growing but it's here” Gutierrez said.
Even though Cipriana was granted asylum Emilio and Ricardo are still afraid of what may happen to them. They say it's not the cartels they're worried about.
“When you know that the government is responsible of those crimes and you still have to ask them to please resolve it, it's like asking the criminal to investigate himself,” Gutierrez stated.
Attorney Carlos Spector agreed:
“What they're really telling me is we don’t feel comfortable in mexico because we can’t trust the police because it was the police that brought the criminals into my house, because it was the police who extorted me,” Spector said.
But what really hurts all of them is the chance of never coming back home.
“My parents taught me to love my homeland and my people and all of that they took it away from me,” Gutierrez concluded.
According to Spector out of the hundreds of asylum petitions made each year in the United States only 8 percent of them are approved.