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U.S. Citizen Deported

A “developmentally disabled” American citizen was accidentally deported and is now missing in Mexico.

A federal judge today refused the ACLU’s request to order the U.S. government to search in Mexico for a developmentally disabled Lancaster man who was wrongly deported, saying instead that he wants to be kept informed of what authorities are doing to find the man.

Pedro Guzman, a 29-year-old U.S. citizen, was serving time in the Los Angeles County Men’s Central Jail for a misdemeanor trespassing conviction when he was deported to Tijuana on May 10 or May 11, according to the American Civil Liberties Union. The group, which filed suit earlier this week over the deportation, also asked U.S. District Judge Dean Pregerson to force federal authorities to ask Mexican authorities for help in the search for Guzman.

Pregerson responded that he did not yet want to go down the “adversarial path” of issuing a court order. The judge also said it was not clear that he has the authority to issue such an order. Pregerson asked U.S. government lawyers to update him tomorrow on what is being done to locate Guzman and what will happen if he appears at a U.S. border checkpoint.

Guzman, who knows no one in Tijuana, was last heard from on May 11, when he phoned his brother and sister-in-law’s home to say he had been deported to that city, but the call was interrupted before he could say exactly where he was, according to the ACLU. Guzman’s mother, brother and sister-in-law traveled to Tijuana and searched shelters, jails, churches, hospitals and morgues, but have not found him and fear for his safety, ACLU officials said.

Quite bizarre. I have little knowledge of immigration law and presume Pregerson knows better than I do the scope of his authority. Still, it’s quite extraordinary that our immigration procedures are so screwed up that we can accidentally deport citizens. And, as Bill Jempty rightly notes, it’s reasonable to wonder how many we’d deport if we tried to round up all 12 million illegals at one time.

As an aside, euphemisms like “developmentally disabled” are decidedly unhelpful. Is Guzman retarded? Does he have Attention Deficit Disorder? Road Rage? What?

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He earned a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. yetanotherjohn says:

    While I can understand the family’s concern, I’m not sure I can agree with your comment “it’s quite extraordinary that our immigration procedures are so screwed up that we can accidentally deport citizens”.

    What large scale human endeavor doesn’t have screw ups? I am not hearing a lot of cases of legal citizens being deported (which may reflect more on me than the immigration procedures).

    The Nifong case was an example of prosecutorial miscunduct because he did not follow the guidelines and procedures laid out. But that was an individual screwing up not the procedures. I don’t see enough details in this article to know if the procedures are screwed up or an individual. But since we are currently seeing a ratio of about 12 million illegal alliens not being deported to one legal citizen being deported, it would seem to me that the current procedures are heavily biased, but not towards deporting legal citizens.

    To put it another way, how happy would you be to have a justice system that let 12 million guilty people go free but then was considered “screwed up” because one innocent person went to jail? Or if your employer cut 12 million payroll checks not paying enough and then was said to have a “screwed up process” because they cut one payroll check for to much?

    Does this need to be investigated, determine what went wrong, see if new procedures would make sense, see if punishment of individuals makes sense, etc? Yes. But a blanket indictment of the entire procedures baised just on this seems to be lacking perspective to me.

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  2. Steve Plunk says:

    Yetanotherjohn’s point is important. In a country of 300 million we will always find aberrations of behavior, law, justice. We should be careful making these into examples of normality. I’m not saying JJ did such a thing but many people do.

    This particular case is bad and let’s hope it gets rectified ASAP.

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  3. Does this need to be investigated, determine what went wrong, see if new procedures would make sense, see if punishment of individuals makes sense, etc? Yes. But a blanket indictment of the entire procedures baised just on this seems to be lacking perspective to me.

    This is not just one isolated instance. Click here for the story of a birth child of a US citizen being denied entrance to the US. Or here for what’s called the widow penalty. James was kind enough to let me blog here about it. This is one big clusterfuck of an agency, there are going to be alot more Carla Freemans, Pedro Guzmans, and Christian DeGrow. Better question, how many are there we haven’t heard about?

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  4. arky says:

    “And, as Bill Jempty rightly notes, it’s reasonable to wonder how many we’d deport if we tried to round up all 12 million illegals at one time.”

    I am SO tired of this canard. What reputable immigration enforcement advocate has suggested such a thing?

    The only time I see this option mentioned, it’s by someone who wants to throw it out as an unachievable goal, and ust that to justify doing nothing.

    Why not discuss the feasibility of enforcing the borders just once? Maybe we’d just like to see the numbers not exceed 20 million.

    After all, there’s no way we can remove all the microbes from our bodies, and many of them there presently provide needed functions. So why bother washing our hands?

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  5. nancy says:

    “Developmentally Disabled” is the legal term used to describe people with mental retardation, cerebral palsy, autism spectrum disorder, various genetic and chromosomal disorders such as Down syndrome and Fragile X syndrome, and fetal alcohol syndrome.

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