02/08/12 – In the past year, the U.S. government has granted political asylum to four Mexican citizens, which is an impressive figure considering that prior to 2010 it was nearly impossible, say activists and lawyers in El Paso, Texas.
The most recent of these approved asylum cases is that of Saúl Reyes Salazar. According to information released by his legal representation on February 7, 2012, Reyes Salazar’s request for political asylum in El Paso, Texas was granted by the U.S. government on January 19, 2012. Having to denounce death threats against himself and his family, Reyes Salazar is now currently speaking out at universities and forums against the violence and lack of security guarantees in Mexico.
Sara Salazar, mother of the Reyes Salazar family, expressed to EFE, “I feel very grateful that the United States has chosen to accept and protect my son Saúl, one of the four children that I have left because six were murdered in Juárez.” The Reyes Salazar family has experienced a significant amount of tragedy in the past two years with the execution of human rights activist Josefina Reyes Salazar in January of 2010, her brother Rubén Reyes Salazar in August of that year, and her brother Elias Reyes Salazar, her sister Magdalena Reyes Salazar, and Elias’ wife Luisa Ornelas in February 2011. (To read more about this situation, click here). According to El Paso-based immigration attorney Carlos Spector, other members of the Reyes Salazar family are also awaiting approval for political asylum.
A second case of political asylum being granted in the past year is that of activist Cipriana Jurado. Her request came in March 2012 after the murder of Josefina Reyes, and several of her family members months later, for fear that she might be the next victim. She explains that she made the decision after many of her activist colleagues had been threatened and murdered. Jurado’s activism included helping families to search for the remains of their daughters who had disappeared or been murdered. She was granted asylum in June of 2011.
The United States has also granted political asylum in the past year to Mónica Arias Hernández, the daughter in-law of activist Marisela Escobedo who was killed in December of 2010. Arias Hernández felt threatened for testifying in the trial against the accused killer of her sister-in-law, Rubí Frayre Escobedo. She explains that, “When they killed my mother-in-law in front of the Government Palace of Chihuahua, without any authority doing anything to help her, and later the murder of Ángel Valles, another witness in the trial… I realized that I could be killed at any moment and nothing would prevent it.” She was subsequently granted asylum in September of 2011.
Finally, Alejandro Hernández, former cameraman for Televisa in the state of Coahuila, was granted political asylum in 2011. He fled Mexico after being kidnapped along with three other coworkers in June of 2010.
Attorney Carlos Spector, who has chosen to take on many of the cases relating to Mexicans seeking asylum in the United States, stated, “We are publicizing the situation in Mexico so that the public as well as the authorities and migratory courts know that the horror movie situation that lives in Mexico is real, and that those that solicit asylum really need it to preserve their lives.”