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Rep. Debbie Dingell and Rep. Fred Upton are pressing immigration officials to stop the deportation of a journalist who is participating in a fellowship at the University of Michigan.

Emilio Gutiérrez Soto, who spent years as a reporter with El Diario Del Noroeste in Ascension, Mexico, is currently participating in the Knight-Wallace Fellowship for Journalists at UM and is seeking asylum in the U.S. because of multiple death threats against him from figures affiliated with the Mexican military. 

Gutiérrez Soto and his son Oscar fled to New Mexico in 2008 to seek asylum amidst the deteriorating climate for press freedom in Mexico.

In their joint letter, Dingell and Upton, a Democrat and Republican, respectively, shared their support for the journalist. 

"Mexico remains the deadliest country for journalists worldwide that is not engaged in armed conflict, and two journalists have already been murdered in the country this year," they wrote. "Given this set of facts, along with the legitimate documented concerns surrounding Mr. Gutiérrez Soto’s safety, we strongly supports his request for asylum."

In addition, Dingell introduced what is known as a private bill, one that applies specifically to Gutiérrez Soto’s case and, if passed, would provide him and his son relief.

Lynette Clemetson, director of the Knight-Wallace Fellowships at UM, wrote on Facebook back in October that she was traveling to Texas to support Guitérrez Soto, who she said has added to "our understanding of the struggle for Press Freedom and basic human dignity in a country where those rights are enshrined in our Constitution and supposedly guaranteed."

She said the journalist and his son were detained and held in an ICE detention facility for nearly eight months and were released on July 26, following pressure to turn over emails "that demonstrated Guitérrez Soto was specifically targeted for detention in retaliation for his public criticisms of the Trump administration's immigration policy."

 

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