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His family feared he'd be killed if he were deported. They were right

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers arrested over 75,000 in the first six months of this year.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers arrested over 75,000 in the first six months of this year. AP

He’d been back in Mexico for just three months when it happened.

Juan Coronilla-Guerrero was asleep in bed with his son when armed men broke into his home in San Luis de la Paz and pointed a gun at his head.

The next morning, his body was found by the side of a Guanajuato road, 40 minutes away from where he had been staying with his wife’s mother and his son.

Coronilla-Guerrero, who had been living in Austin, Tex., was detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents in March as he presented himself at the Travis County courthouse to resolve two outstanding charges against him. Against pleas of his family, who feared he would be targeted by the same gang that caused them to flee to the U.S., he was deported back to Central Mexico.

He had been deported once before, in 2008, but reentered the country without proper documentation, according to the Austin-American Statesman. He had been at the courthouse in March to deal with charges of marijuana possession and family violence.

"It strikes me as extraordinary that ICE would come into a courthouse to apprehend my client," Coronilla-Guerrero's lawyer, Dainel Betts, told the Austin Chronicle shortly after the arrest. "The irony is that he was in court to avoid problems with immigration by resolving his misdemeanor offense."

Coronilla-Guerrero’s wife said he didn’t get to say goodbye to her or his son before he was taken into custody. She also said $1,300 that had been in his wallet, to be used for rent, was gone when she was given his belongings.

Such arrests have been popular in the region, concerning families and immigration advocates who say targeting immigrants showing up for court dates is a dangerous practice. In February, 51 people were arrested by ICE in the Austin area.

"This will have a chilling effect on our judicial branch of government's ability to operate effectively," Austin City Council member Greg Casar told the Austin American Statesman. "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."

According to CNN, ICE arrested 75,045 undocumented immigrants between January and June of this year.

Coronilla-Guerrero’s wife went to Mexico for his funeral and will not return to Austin, she said.

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