On a recent trip to the border, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the end of “catch and release”, effectively announcing a policy that criminalizes and detains asylum seekers. Asylum seekers do not have to be “caught”; they arrive to our border fleeing violence and persecution in their home countries, seeking legal protections under federal law. In flagrant contradiction of our country's historic commitment to refugees and asylum seekers, Attorney General Sessions and Secretary Kelly's policies are incarcerating those who pose no threat to our community.

Martin Mendez Pineda, a 26 year old journalist from Acapulco, fled Mexico seeking asylum at the El Paso border. Mexico is one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists. Martin had written news articles criticizing the federal police resulting in a series of death threats and beatings by officers. Martin passed his credible fear exam. ICE denied Martin parole on March 28, 2017 and he remains in detention.

Mayra Solis, a college student from El Salvador, was 3 months pregnant when she came to the El Paso border fleeing threats from gang members. According to her attorney Linda Rivas, “ICE is in violation of if it’s own policies by detaining a woman who is now 5 months pregnant.” Ms. Solis has been transferred six times to different detention centers and ICE even lost track of her location for a period of 24 hours. “She was handcuffed and placed on a 12-hour bus which made her so sick she had to be hospitalized.” Mayra continues to report physical ailments such as weight loss, headache, and vomiting.


On February 5, 2017, Martin Mendez Pineda, a 25 year old journalist from Acapulco, Guerrero fled Mexico seeking asylum at the El Paso Port of Entry.  Martin had written news articles in the Acapulco daily, Novedades, critical of the federal police which resulted in him receiving a series of death threats and beatings by 8 officers.

ICE’s denial of Martin’s parole request signals an inhumane, criminalization of the asylum process as well as a blanket policy of imprisoning Mexican refugees fleeing state violence.  Of particular concern is the alarmingly increasing violence against Mexican journalists which has resulted in the recent murder of Miroslava Breach Velducea, a well-known Chihuahua journalist as well as the closure of the El Norte de Cd. Juarez daily newspaper.

On March 1, 2017, Martin passed his credible fear exam.  Thereafter, he sought to be released by ICE from their prison which was denied on March 28, 2017 due to him being considered a flight risk as well as for having insufficient community ties.

According to the highly reported Paris based Reporters Without Borders, “during 2016 itself, 11 journalists were murdered in Mexico, as of 2010, 35 have been murdered, which places this country as one of the most dangerous of the world for the journalism profession.”

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