Blog dedicated to reporting on Mexican drug cartels
on the border line between the US and Mexico

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Juarez Man Granted Asylum After 11 Family Members Killed

Borderland Beat
EL PASO — Christian Chaidez didn’t mince words Tuesday as he sat with his mother and attorney in a law office here, just a few miles from Chaidez’s native Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. 
“I want to thank [U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement] and the judge that made the decision to let me stay here in the United States,” he said. “If it wasn’t for them, I don’t know what would become of my life.” 
Chaidez, 30, fled to the U.S. in 2011. He and his mother are two of the last of their family members standing. Ten of their relatives, small-business owners including Chaidez’s father and grandmother, were murdered for refusing to pay extortion to gangs during the height of Juarez’s brutal drug war. 
In her order issued in June, El Paso-based immigration judge Guadalupe Gonzalez said that the court believed Chaidez illustrated a reasonable fear of persecution in Mexico, which his attorney said was a rare decision. His mother is already a permanent resident. 
“We finally won a case where we have sought asylum on the basis of extortion,” said Carlos Spector, Chaidez’s attorney, who has more worked on more than 70 asylum cases. “The biggest problem facing the Mexican community today is extortion, yet [U.S. immigration] courts have refused to grant asylum on the basis of extortion because it’s not perceived to be a ground covered by asylum law.” 
As the debate on immigration reform advances, however, immigration attorneys like Spector said there are concerns about what the eventual bill may do for people like Chaidez, who seek to live in the U.S. legally out of fear for their lives but whose lives may be at the mercy of a deal brokered by Congress on immigration reform. 
The current version of the bill, S. 744 by the U.S. Senate’s so-called Gang of Eight, passed through the upper chamber after a strict border-enforcement amendment was attached. The bill creates a pathway for citizenship for undocumented immigrants, but the amendment calls for more fencing and agents on the southwest border. The GOP-controlled House is set to craft its own version of the bill, and whether it passes could depend on what enforcement measures are adopted.    
“If we do get a primarily law enforcement bill, I think people [seeking asylum] are going to be detained for a longer period of time because of the law enforcement emphasis,” Spector said. "This sends a message to the asylum seeker: You are going to be locked up.”  
Chaidez was brought to the country by his parents and lived in El Paso as an undocumented immigrant. He graduated from high school but was deported years later after being pulled over and arrested for an unpaid traffic citation. He re-entered the country illegally and was served in 2012 by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement with a notice that it intended to return him to Mexico. He was then placed in detention for a year after seeking protection.  
Gonzalez issued what is called a withholding of removal, which allows Chaidez to live and work indefinitely in this country. In the case, Spector also argued that if Chaidez was deported, he would likely have been turned over to criminal groups by Mexican immigration agents upon his arrival.  
There are two paths to apply for asylum: the “affirmative” process and the “defensive” process. The affirmative process is taken by an immigrant who is already in the U.S. legally and who applies and undergoes an interview with a federal asylum officer. A decision is subsequently rendered. The defensive process involves being detained, either at a port of entry or in the interior, and being subject to expedited removal from the U.S. under current immigration law. The detainee can seek asylum and plead his or her case before an immigration judge.  
Spector conceded that drawing attention to his client’s case — and the slaughter of most of his family — would probably be fuel for border hawks who want to seal the border, pointing to not only Chaidez's attempt to flee but also his previous deportation. But, Spector said, it’s not that simple. 
“Our concern is that if the border is sealed, that will increase the persecution of families” in Mexico, he said. “Extortions will become a greater percentage of the criminal pie." 
Ira Mehlman, a national spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, a nonpartisan group that advocates for increased border security and limited legal immigration, said asylum laws should be respected and used for what they were intended: to protect people singled out for persecution based on certain factors like political activism, gender and race. 
He said that because he is not familiar with the Chaidez case, he couldn’t speak to it directly. But generally speaking, he added, while people face tragic conditions in other countries, some could manipulate current law for their benefit. 
“Everybody who is living in Juárez is living in a dangerous city,” he said. “The U.S. certainly employs a role in trying to ameliorate that through policy. But the idea we can take in that many people … is certainly unworkable.” 
He said people on both sides of the political spectrum are trying to amend policies. The people on the right, for example, want to include Chinese immigrants who disagree with the country’s one-child-per-couple policy while the people on the left want to see exceptions for victims of domestic violence. And an effort to change the requirement that most asylum seekers do so within one year of their arrivals may also lead to potential abuses. 
“They want to eliminate that and make it possible for people to come here and spend some time and then when they get caught, seek asylum,” he said. 
Eduardo Beckett, the former director of the Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center in El Paso, said current asylum laws make it difficult for anyone from Latin America to be granted permission to stay, with the possible exceptions of Cuba or Venezuela. 
A client of his, Gilmore Portillo Amaya, 23, was determined to leave El Salvador after refusing to work for the notorious MS-13 gang, which the U.S. government has designated sanctions against. But after surrendering to U.S. Border Patrol near Brownsville earlier this year after running out of food and water, Portillo remains in detention. He's currently seeking asylum based on his belief that the police in El Salvador are complicit with the gang and any decision not to work for them is a death sentence.  
“We don’t have Nazi persecution and World War II is over, but the world changes, and asylum laws need to change with the times,” Beckett said. “As long as organized crime reigns in Third World countries, we’re going to continue to have asylum seekers from around the world.” 
Source: Texas Tribune


  1. if this is so difficult to get asylum in USA
    I am not surprised people cross the border

  2. It is a complex issue,but it is not helped by open Mexican racism and constant berating of the US?There are more important things at hand than hating on the"gringo"both sides acting like children,do we think people don't notice these things?I know i do,and i have never used it on here,how many others can say the same thing?Let us see the comments that this story elicits?I imagine it will not be positive?

  3. 12 million Mexicans figured out how to do it anonymously, why even bother asking?

  4. and the whole time while these poor people's lives are gutted and ripped apart, loved one's slaughtered and butchered... mexico's government officials get rich of their blood, pain suffering and sorrow and never look back. nice culture.

  5. This is a real slippery slope. If only five of your family members are killed, do you get asylum? Where do you draw the line?

    Sad to say, this really isn't a reason for asylum under the law. If so, every dangerous country is potentially a source for asylum seekers...

  6. cases of asylum when it has anything to do with Mexico are very touchy, very sensitive, not only is it rare to have them granted, but it is a slap on the face to Mexico, Mexico being a "democratic" country does not like it one bit, the State i mean, you cannot have your citizens asking for asylum when you are such a flag waving democracy, several have happened since these so called war on the cartels started, yet the Mexican media does not report on them, with a few exceptions like proceso, carmen aristegui and a few other honest journalists and publications, but for the most part nobody learns about these cases.

  7. This news should be reported on US and Mexico channels so everyone can see what a piece of shit the Mexican government is.. They cant even help there own people.. No wonder Mexicans don't wanna be there..

  8. so do you think that he is now a target for getting away from them, will they be pissed and send a call over to their el paso members to go kidnap him, they should have kept his name out of the media

  9. It is indeed a shame when a democratic country is so corrupt, that it's people must leave it for laborious jobs abroad or literally run out of it for fear of death due to crazies running amok with impunity. It's a disgrace. It's Rwanda in North America, countryman against countryman with a government that doesn't seem to give a shit. Mayors, governors, villagers whose families have been slaughtered all running out of their homeland and asking for asylum elsewhere.

    One wonders if the Mexican government has no shame, no pride?

  10. what is happening in mexico is totally planned, let them flee, less for us to pay for they probably say

  11. @ July 11, 2013 at 9:17 AM
    Fair point.

    This is a real tragedy. I hope that with time this man can take solace in how lucky he was to have escaped. Also, he looks like a bit like Tom Hardy/Bane :)

  12. There are other cities in Mexico he could move too. This is a big problem granting cartel members asylum.

  13. at 11:25 AM
    "cases of asylum when it has anything to do with Mexico are very touchy, very sensitive"
    Excellent point,it does not look good.The Mexican government will not like it,this kind of thing elicits more antagonism"who do they think they are,stay out of it"even if it is helping a Mexican national to stay alive.We all know how Russia used to deal with defectors,and they didn't like anyone giving asylum to its citizens.As 11:25 AM says,Mexico is a somewhat liberal and"democratic"country,it does not look good when its citizens ask for asylum in droves of the US,this may be one of the reasons why the US usually says no?
    Do you blame us?Damned if we do,damned if we don't.

  14. 9:04 PM
    "Also, he looks like a bit like Tom Hardy/Bane"
    Thats it then,if he looks like Bane,let him in.
    I know someone who looks like Salma Hayek,can i let her in?


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