Just weeks after speaking to the press about his longtime girlfriend’s detention by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, an undocumented immigrant in Washington state was himself arrested by ICE, in what he says is retaliation for his public statements.
In interviews with The Seattle Times and the Chinook Observer in November and August, respectively, Baltazar “Rosas” Aburto Gutierrez had recalled how his girlfriend, Gladys Diaz, had been arrested by ICE agents responding to an ad for a homemade piñata she’d posted online. Aburto Gutierrez was not named in the Times story and was only identified by his nickname in the Observer, but his comments were to enough to land him on ICE’s radar. He was picked up immigration officials in a grocery store parking lot on Nov. 27.
In an interview from jail with the Times published on Sunday, Aburto Gutierrez claimed his arresting agent told him,“You are the one from the newspaper,” and said that his supervisor “asked me to come find you because of what appeared in the newspaper.”
Speaking with the Washington Post, ICE confirmed Aburto Gutierrez’s arrest, but refused to comment when pressed on whether he’d been singled out for his public statements.
“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,” an agency spokesperson said. “This does not mean an alien is exempt from future immigration enforcement.”
Aburto Gutierrez, 35, had reportedly lived in the U.S. for the past 18 years. When reached by phone in Mexico by the Times, Diaz, his girlfriend, sobbed at the news of his arrest.