Juan Coronilla-Guerrero — a 28-year-old Mexican man whose wife pleaded with a U.S. federal judge that he would be killed if he was deported — was found murdered in Central Mexico, the Austin American-Statesman first reported.
Coronilla-Guerrero’s body was found on the side of a road in San Luis de la Paz, Guanajuato, the publication reported Monday, 40 minutes away from where he had been living with his wife’s mother and his son.
He had been deported from the United States three months ago.
“I knew,” Coronilla-Guerrero’s wife, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of her family’s safety, told the American-Statesman. “I knew that if he came back here, they were going to kill him, and look, that’s what happened. That’s what happened.”
When gunmen stormed a house owned by the family of Coronilla-Guerrero’s wife on September 12, he allegedly told his son, “‘Don’t worry, my love. Don’t worry’” when they held a pistol to his head. An autopsy report shows he was killed by gunshot wounds consistent with a homicide.
His wife who went to Mexico for his funeral will not return to Austin, she told the publication. Coronilla-Guerrero’s wife said that it was likely her husband had been killed by the same gangs that compelled him to flee for Texas in the first place.
Coronilla-Guerrero was detained earlier this year in Austin when he showed up at the Travis County criminal courthouse for a routine court appearance on two misdemeanor charges of assault and possession of marijuana, local ABC affiliate KVUE reported in March. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents detained him because he had been deported once before in 2008 and reentered the country without proper papers.
Coronilla-Guerrero’s detention at the courthouse received heavy criticism from City Council member Greg Casar who said that conducting enforcement activities at a courthouse could harm the city’s “overall public safety,” KVUE reported.
Courthouses are considered “sensitive locations” where ICE agents generally avoid conducting enforcement operations because their actions may disrupt the daily activities of other people who may otherwise feel too scared to go to the courthouse. However, an increasing number of immigration arrests have taken place at state courthouses nationwide since Trump took office.
“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,” Casar added.
Coronilla-Guerrero’s murder points to some indications that immigrants from Latin American countries, particularly Mexico, have a difficult time proving the violence from which they fled. In a report released Wednesday, researchers with the nonprofit American Immigration Council found that border agents often fail to ask whether detainees have a credible fear of going back to their countries, or a reason to fear they may be persecuted or killed if they return.
Other immigrants deported to their home countries have similarly been killed after their return. Constantino Morales, an undocumented advocate who lived in Iowa for five years and was twice denied asylum in the United States, said he couldn’t return because he had been a police officer who stood up to drug traffickers. He was murdered six months after his deportation. At least five children were murdered in Honduras soon after the U.S. government deported them in 2014, according to a morgue director. A Mexican domestic violence victim was killed by her boyfriend and left in a burnt-out car five days after her deportation.