US Refugee Visas: A Golden Ticket Finally Granted to a Juarez Journalist

by Thailand Lawyer on January 14, 2011

By Kimberly Wied

It’s no secret that the long and arduous process of seeking a refugee visa in the United States more often than not ends in crushing failure. The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) must determine that the individual meets certain requirements and provides sufficient evidence that he or she faces persecution in his or her home country. These requirements are typically not laid out for the press or general public.

If you do a quick search online, you’ll likely note that most news on this topic usually ends in notice that the visa was not granted, and that the case has been moved into the hands of a US immigration judge, where it could be stalled for some time. In other cases, the individual might have been forced to leave the United States altogether. For refugees that arrive in the United States after traveling halfway across the world, it might be easier to dismiss a case due to lack of evidence. But what happens when there’s blood running down the streets in a city just beyond your back porch?

Let’s take a look at Juarez, one of the most dangerous cities in the world, and a topic touched on in this blog previously. Regardless of the dark origins of the violence that has engulfed parts of Mexico over the last several years, the fact that the USA shares a border with Mexico means that it will become more and more difficult for the US to turn a blind eye to the bloody goings-on with its Southern neighbor and the need of its people to seek refuge elsewhere.

Mexican journalists and other members of the media are in a particularly high risk position, if they stick to their guns and report on the true reality of the situation. Several Mexican journalists have already entered the United States to seek asylum, according to the website Narco News. Regardless of their respective situations and the danger they face if they return to Mexico, many of these journalists have sat in limbo while they wait to see if their case will go through the US system.

There might be a light of hope, however, for potential refugees from Mexico seeking a chance at life outside the increasingly dire and dangerous circumstances in their home country. According to the above Narco News story, Jorge Luis Aguirre, who runs a Juarez news site called La, was granted political asylum by the United States on September 20, 2010. Aguirre had crossed the border into El Paso in 2008, after receiving a death threat on his mobile phone. He began the process of applying for political asylum, and eventually testified before the US Senate Judiciary Committee in 2009.

Aguirre’s case is viewed as a huge victory by Mexican journalists seeking political asylum in the United States, and might just open the little window of hope a bit wider for a refugee visa to be granted to journalists facing persecution.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Jenny P February 1, 2011 at 04:05

I am glad to see an article about such an important and sometimes overlooked topic. Journalists can be our greatest truth-bearers and they should be protected from the inevitable hazards of their jobs. I hope Mr. Aguirre’s case will set a precedent for journalists seeking political asylum. If there is an increase in journalists who are granted asylum, then it will be a good opportunity to open more doors for judges, prosecutors, and other professionals who are targeted for carrying out their job responsibilities. Protecting journalists is a part of protecting democracy.

California Visa Lawyer April 29, 2011 at 06:05

Great blog for journalists. This article is a motivation for every journalist. Increasing journalism means shielding democracy. If journalism increase then it will create a good opportunity in other job sector.

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