Salvadoran journalist working as immigration reporter in Georgia denied asylum in U.S.

A Salvadoran journalist who fled his country after receiving threats is facing deportation since his U.S. asylum application was denied, reported the Associated Press on Thursday, July 5.

Mario Guevara, an immigration reporter for the weekly Spanish-language newspaper Mundo Hispánico in Atlanta, Georgia, had been threatened and attacked for his work as a photojournalist for the newspaper La Prensa Gráfica in his native El Salvador, explained the EFE news agency.

Guevara, who with his family fled to the United States in 2004, was denied asylum in June and told he had 60 days to leave the United States. On Friday, July 6, Guevara told CNN he now relates to the sources he has been covering as an immigration reporter: "I understand now what the people feel. Never in my life have I cried so much as in the last couple of day," he said.

Within 24 hours of the judge's ruling, more than 800 people had signed an online petition to stop the journalist's deportation, according to the Media Moves website.

The U.S. immigration judge reasoned that the journalist did not prove he had been persecuted, nor did he demonstrate that police in El Salvador were unwilling or unable to protect him, the Associated Press said. However, "the threats on his life were real,” said La Prensa Gráfica photo editor Francisco Campos in an affidavit, reported New America Media.

In 2011, 80 journalists fled their native countries because of threats and harassment, according to Reporters Without Borders. In May, 15 journalists fled Veracruz, Mexico, considered the most dangerous area for practicing journalism. In August 2011, Alejandro Hernández Pacheco became the second Mexican journalist to receive asylum in the United States due to Mexico's drug violence. This trend of journalists fleeing to the United States has continued, with Mexican journalist Miguel Ángel López Solana announcing his bid for political asylum in the United States during the 10th Austin Forum on Journalism in the Americas in May.

Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.