LatinaLista — Pedro Guzman is a 29-year-old native Californian — but that didn't matter.
Like a pathetic scene from an old Cheech and Chong movie, he was deported to Mexico back in May. Today, he is finally being reunited with his family.
There are no laughs here but a serious argument as to why local police should not be trying to get into the business of trying to ID undocumented immigrants.
It was only a matter of time before this happened, and this is only the case we KNOW about.
To backtrack, Juan Guzman, whom his family claims is mildly mentally disabled and cannot read or write, was jailed on a misdemeanor trespassing violation and for spraying graffiti at an airplane junkyard.
He originally was sentenced to 120 days in jail but it was reduced to 40 days. However, before his family knew it, he was calling them from Tijuana telling them he had been deported.
The local sheriff's department said that Guzman said he was born in Mexico and that was why they turned him over to the immigration officials.
And that's why the incident is so troubling:
1. Even if Guzman had been born in Mexico, that doesn't mean he could not have been a U.S. citizen. To turn him over based on that answer alone underscores the deficiencies that exist with allowing local law enforcement to act as immigration agents, and highlights the problem that exists within ICE - either they're so overworked that they just took the word of the sheriff's officials without properly doing their own investigation or they didn't care to follow up on who Guzman was, evaluating his mental condition and trying to contact his family.
In other words, we have to wonder if they even talked to Guzman before loading him on the bus for Mexico.
2.) An assumption was made because of his ethnicity that he was "illegal." In fact, it has become quite commonplace for people to assume that all dark-skinned Latinos are illegal.
For all the mothers whose children are 3rd, 4th, 5th generation Latinos who speak no Spanish and think authentic Mexican food is served at Taco Bell, it would be an unspeakable nightmare if our children are picked up because somebody thought they were illegal.
3.) Once the mistake was pointed out to the authorities, they made no attempt to try and help the family find him and bring him home. As old as this question is beginning to sound, it's still valid: If Guzman had been a white, developmentally delayed man named Granger, would the authorities have done all they could to find him.
I think so.
In fairness it should be noted that the family asked the Mexican government to help find their son too but never got a response. Yet, from a government that refuses to find the real killers of hundreds of Juarez women, their inaction shouldn't be surprising.
But this government owed that family the courtesy of finding their son.
Reports say that Guzman's mom, a fast-food cook, spent her entire savings to go live in a fruit warehouse in Tijuana while she was looking for her son, and still U.S. authorities wouldn't own up to their screw-up.
It's only a matter of time before it happens again, and again, and again...