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Why is Being Hispanic Synonymous with Being Illegal?

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…

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  • inconflict
    August 7, 2007 at 9:37 pm

    where exactly what his freaking lawyer?! oh gosh! so right if this man would have been white or even black. i always wonder what if people just didn’t provide identification records… can the government really deport them because of their ethnicity? “oh you look chinese, we’ll just send you there.”

  • Peruanista
    August 8, 2007 at 6:36 am

    Juan Guzman is not Hispanic. He is a native/indigenous man of Mexican heritage. Hispanic people are from Spain and Portugal (Hispania).

  • David O.
    August 8, 2007 at 4:38 pm

    From Peruanista, “Juan Guzman is not Hispanic…”
    As if that mattered to the migra.
    I’ve been close to being picked up, at age 8, by the migra while waiting for my grandfather.
    I can imagine the pain and frustration the mother is undergoing. Is there anyone looking into her situation and offerering help in searching for her son?

  • Marisa
    August 8, 2007 at 4:48 pm

    He was found earlier this week and has been returned home.
    There are some in Congress who are just as outraged by this situation. Today the following statement was released:
    Rep. Lofgren Issues Statement on Guzman Case
    Washington, D.C. – Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-San Jose) today
    issued the following statement in response to the safe return of Pedro
    Guzman to his family in the United States.
    This entire situation is nothing less than a broad indictment of the
    Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) policies and procedures. Mr.
    Guzman’s needless suffering was the direct result of systematic
    failures spread throughout the department. We have a case where two of
    the department’s core agencies, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement
    (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP), completely failed to
    safeguard the rights and wellbeing of an American citizen.
    I find the department’s failures completely unacceptable and
    unforgivable. The Department of Homeland Security exists for one
    purpose, to safeguard the lives of Americans. Mr. Guzman’s plight is a
    clear indicator that DHS has failed at its core mission. I plan to get
    to the bottom of this debacle.
    Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren is serving her seventh term in Congress
    representing most of the City of San Jose and Santa Clara County. She
    serves as Chair of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration,
    Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security, and International Law. She
    also Chairs the House Administration Subcommittee on Elections and
    serves on the House Homeland Security Committee. Congresswoman
    Lofgren is Chair of the California Democratic Congressional Delegation
    consisting of 34 Democratic members of the U.S. House of
    Representatives from California.

  • Mike
    August 8, 2007 at 5:30 pm

    Let me ask Lou Dobbs if he might have an idea why.

  • Horace
    August 10, 2007 at 9:27 pm

    Gee, could it be because one in five Hispanics is an illegal alien? If one counts the sons and daughters of the 1986 amnestas, those who came illegally and were granted amnesty, most Hispanics got here by bullying their way into this country. Many of those amnestas used fraudulent documents to prove their presence during the eligibility window. And once given amnesty, these same people sent money and encouraged their families to follow as illegal aliens. Once here, their families aided and abetted these family members. And if caught, their families cried foul and whined of the unfairness and the racist attitudes of the citizens who objected to their illegal alien brothers and sisters being deported. Non-Hispanics aren’t supposed to be bitter by this shameless activity of these people, but don’t bet on it. This stigma will always remain with Hispanics, even those who came as legal immigrants. Current support of the new wave of illegal immigrants only serves as a reminder of the previous events and perpetuates the view of many Americans that Hispanics are selfish rogues that do not fit in with most Americans sense of fair play. Everything for Hispanics, nothing for everyone else.

  • Frank
    August 15, 2007 at 8:54 pm

    Perunista, Mexicans are Hispanics ethnically. You obviously don’t know what constitutes a Hispanic.

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