As the Senate begins its debate on the immigration reform bill, Democracy Now! speaks to Shena Gutierrez, whose husband was nearly killed in an encounter with Border Patrol agents. While still unconscious in the hospital, he was threatened with deportation. She explains what happened. Also joining the discussion, is Andrea Guerrero, co-chair of Southern Border Communities Coalition and executive director of Alliance San Diego.
Shena Gutierrez tells what happened to her husband when he encountered U.S. Border Patrol agents:
"Two years ago, March 30th—he was deported to Mexico March 21st. And, you know, he was desperate. You know, we have two young children. At the time, our son was two and a half; our daughter was only four months old. And our daughter was in the hospital. And he was deported, and he was just trying to figure out how to get back to us. March 30th, he attempted to cross back, and I lost contact with him that day. Wednesday, Thursday, Friday go by. By Saturday, I’m completely going insane, not knowing what happened, where he’s at, if he’s alive, if he’s OK. I mean, it just wasn’t like him to not call me and let me know what was going on.
I get a call from the consulate in Arizona asking me, you know, "Is this Shena, who’s his wife?" I said, "Yes." And I will never forget those words. She says, "Well, we have to inform you that there’s been an accident." I had no idea what kind of accident she meant. After numerous phone calls, hours later, I find out he’s in Phoenix, and they tell me he’s unconscious. I get to the hospital, and in my mind I’m thinking, you know, "Unconscious: He’s laying in a bed with maybe an IV in his arm, and that’s it, at the most." And when I turn the corner and I see the two agents—because he was being protected, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, by agents at the door—they stand up, and I notice gun on one side and taser on the other side. And I just kind of peek into his room, and I fall, because he had staples ear to ear, black and blue all over his body. He had machines all over him. And he was in a straight-up coma.
I wasn’t told immediately what happened, but eventually I was told that he became combative. And I didn’t believe it. I know my husband. They told me he fell back and hit his head on a rock. Now, by looking at him, black and blue and staples—and five parts of his skull were removed. But it was brain—his brain was so swollen from the hemorrhaging. I just knew it was not from a fall to a rock. Border Patrol changed their story with me three times. They gave me three different versions of what had happened. They—it just kept changing and changing. So I started calling, you know, all these organizations and media and trying to get some kind of help. I didn’t know what to do, really. I didn’t know. Their—the hospital started telling me, "We’re going to deport him." He was in a coma. He was on life support. And I said, "You can’t do this to him. This happened here. This needs to be taken care of here." I don’t even know what’s really going on. I never got a report. I never got any answers. I never got anything. It was hear—you know, he said, she said, that type of thing.
So, we almost lost him a few times. He was in a coma for four weeks. And it was so difficult, so difficult, because I—you know, I’m away from my children for a whole month, and I’m trying to deal with the hospital. My husband’s almost dying, and they want to deport him. And hospital’s blaming Border Patrol; Border Patrol’s blaming them. And finally, he got, after two weeks, a—he got granted a stay from the Ninth Circuit. And they told me, "We’re going to deport him anyways." And so, here’s my proof. I’m showing them he can stay. He can stay here. You know, I’m excited about it. But they’re saying, "No." They told me, "He’s illegal. He’s a criminal. He has no room to be here. He can’t pay his medical bills. He needs to go. He’s a criminal." That’s all they kept telling me. "He’s a criminal. He’s a criminal." So, he, all the while, is still in a coma. And, thank God, you know, they stopped it. He was able to stay. The agents were gone, finally, from the door, because he was being protected 24 hours a day. And, I mean, after three weeks, he started waking up from the coma. But there was a lot of complications with his trach tube, so they had to put him back into a medically induced coma, off and on."
A full transcript of this show is available here.