Carlos Gutierrez was a victim of a Mexican drug cartel that tried extorting over $10,000 a month from him, but when he did not submit to their demands, they chopped off both his feet. While Gutierrez was still recovering, he and his family fled to Mexico where they applied for asylum in the U.S.
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Because Gutierrez is considered a low priority case, he was legally allowed to remain in the U.S. Many immigrants who apply for asylum are accused of cheating the system, but Gutierrez’s case is different and he is going out of his way to prove this. Gutierrez is planning to ride his bike with prosthetic legs from El Paso, Texas to Austin in order raise awareness that Mexicans are not gaming the system when they apply for asylum.
Asylee applications have become scrutinized more often because the burden of proof is so hard to prove. When applying for asylum, the individuals must prove a “credible fear of persecution or torture.” In fact, one senator stated that immigrants are “just gaming our system, knowing that they can get here and milk the system for years with no consequences.”
Once someone is granted asylum, they can remain in the country legally, but the government could reopen the case. Just because someone is granted legal status for the reason of asylum also does not mean that the government cannot take it back at any time. This is a dangerous prospective because if Gutierrez is sent back to Mexico, he will most likely be tortured or put to death.
Many other immigrants have already faced this fate and ended up shipped back into dangerous cartel territory. Just last week a U.S. immigration judge denied asylum to a Mexican woman whose two sons were killed two weeks prior to the hearing in Mexico. She is set to be deported back and may face the same fate as her sons. Her family members advised her “to return to Dallas for her own safety.” In a separate incident, ICE deported a woman back to her violent ex-boyfriend. She was found dead in a burning vehicle shorty after.
Deaths due to Mexican drug cartels continue to rise but the number of asylum visas only increased by 19 visas last year. Gutierrez is hoping his 670-mile adventure will increase the number of visas available to asylum seekers and show that not all immigrants are abusing the system.
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