After unsuccessfully pleading with a United States federal judge to keep her husband from being deported back to Mexico where he would surely be murdered, the 28-year-old deportee was found dead in Central Mexico.
Juan Coronilla-Guerrero was detained in Austin in early 2017 during a routine court appearance at the Travis County criminal courthouse. He had two misdemeanor charges of assault and marijuana possession, but as he appeared at the court, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents detained him.
Coronilla-Guerrero had already been deported in 2008 but had re-entered the country illegally.
Three months ago, he was deported again, but not before his wife, who asked to remain anonymous, pleaded with the judge to keep him from being sent to Mexico because she feared that the same gangs that had compelled him to flee to America would eventually kill him.
On Sept. 12, gunmen stormed the house in Mexico where Coronilla-Guerrero was staying along with his son, which belongs to his wife’s family. He was subsequently shot dead. According to the autopsy, the death was a homicide.
“I knew,” his wife told reporters after going back to Mexico for the funeral. “I knew that if he came back here, they were going to kill him, and look, that’s what happened. That’s what happened.”
She vowed to never return to Austin.
Austin City Council member Greg Casar criticized the way ICE handled this case, saying that conducting enforcement activities at courthouses undermine efforts to uphold public safety.
“Because of actions like this, people will fear going to court dates as victims, witnesses, or defendants. When families live in fear, we all lose,” Casar told reporters.
Unfortunately, Coronilla-Guerrero’s story isn’t a new one, as many Latin-American immigrants often fail to prove before court that their lives are in jeopardy if they are sent back to their home countries.
That was the case with others, such as Constantino Morales, an undocumented immigrant and advocate who was denied asylum and then killed after being deported. A victim of domestic violence who was deported back to Mexico was found dead five days after being kicked out of the country, and five children were also murdered after being deported to Honduras in 2014.
These tragic realities remind us that to address the immigration problem we must amplify these stories of persecution.
We must also put pressure on Congress to look at the right types of reform to immigration policy that would give victims of violence abroad access to a better asylum-seeking system. But knowing President Donald Trump would eventually have to sign any bill that properly reforms U.S. immigration laws, we know significant change may be harder to achieve at this point.
Banner and thumbnail image credit: Reuters/Lucy Nicholson