Immigration officials arrested an unauthorized alien after stumbling across his testimony in a newspaper.
Baltazar “Rosas” Aburto Gutierrez was interviewed last week by The Seattle Times and Washington-based Chinook Observer. Recounting how his girlfriend had been set-up by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, Gutierrez wondered why his entire family hadn’t been deported.
“Why you don’t take us all?” Gutierrez claims to have asked ICE officers, who’d walked his girlfriend home after detaining her in a sting.
The girlfriend – who is the mother of Gutierrez’s children – reportedly put an ad up in a local newspaper. Trying to snag some extra cash by selling homemade piñatas, she received a call from an interested man.
When she showed up to meet her prospective buyer, she was informed that she was being arrested for illegally entering the United States.
Gutierrez’s story featured prominently in regional media, with some press outlets trying to put a human face on the Trump administration’s immigration crackdown.
A Mexican national by birth, Gutierrez has lived in the United States for 18 years. Before being arrested by immigration officials, he’d had a clean criminal record.
When agents arrived to take him away from an Ocean Shores property, he says he asked why they’d come for him so quickly.
“My supervisor asked me to come find you because of what appeared in the newspaper,” Gutierrez claims he was told.
A spokeswoman for ICE, Lori Haley, says the agency doesn’t retaliate against immigrants who speak out against its practices but refused to otherwise comment.
“ICE conducts targeted immigration enforcement in compliance with federal law and agency policy, and at times, exercises prosecutorial discretion when the circumstances of a particular case have extenuating factors like the care of minor children or an alien’s medical condition,” she said. “This does not mean an alien is exempt from future immigration enforcement.”
Fox News notes that some legal analysts have suggested Gutierrez’s free speech rights were violated – he was detained only after speaking out about his girlfriend’s arrest.
And The Seattle Times says the arrests created something of a stir in the local community, drawing attention to the deportation of illegal immigrants who were otherwise law-abiding and integrated into their towns and cities. Southwest Washington in particular, the Times writes, is poor but beautiful – it relies heavily on immigrant labor to sustain its “limited economy,” which “revolves around seafood, cranberries and tourism.”
Gutierrez’s girlfriend, meanwhile, seemed frightened – speaking to reporters from a small town near Puerto Vallarta, she was apparently in tears. The man had been supporting his family in Mexico with the money he earned as a clam-digger in Washington.
Now that he’s been arrested, the family’s subsistence will take a blow.
But Gutierrez himself doesn’t seem ready to admit defeat. He told The Seattle Times that wants to stay and fight the deportation order.
If that doesn’t work, he hopes he might have another chance when he’s older. His children, Gutierrez says, are all U.S. citizens – maybe they can help find a way to bring him back to the country in which he carved out a life.