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Pedro Guzman Returns (No Thanks to the U.S. Government) – UPDATED

August 7th, 2007 by Celeste Fremon

Pedro Guzman Returns (No Thanks to the U.S. Government)

Pedro Guzman, the 29-year-old developmentally disabled man—and U.S. citizen
— who was wrongly deported from the LA County jail to Mexico in May of this year, turned up this past Sunday when he tried to cross back into the U.S. at Calexico.

In case you’ve forgotten, here are the basics of the story: In April of this year, Guzman was sentenced to 120 days in jail for trespassing and vandalism. It seems that, in a bizarre serious of actions, Guzman walked out on the runway at the Fox Field Airport in Lancaster, and tried repeatedly to get on a private plane as it prepared for takeoff. Then when he couldn’t get on, he found a stranger’s truck, and sat inside the cab until he was arrested.

Although sentenced to 120 days, Guzman was only scheduled to spend 40 days in LA’s overcrowded jail system, yet he was instead released after 20 days and deported to Tijuana. As nearly as anyone seems to know, the mistake was based on a confused conversation in which Guzman indicated to sheriff’s deputies that he was born in Mexico—nevermind the fact that he was born in Los Angeles.

Yet, despite his disability (not to mention the fact that he’d been locked up to begin with for irrational behavior), nobody bothered to check his records. Instead he was transferred from the LA County facility to an immigration detention center in Santa Ana, where the disoriented Guzman signed a voluntary deportation order—after which time he was transported to the border and dropped off, with little in his pockets, inside Mexico. He tried to call his family once after his deportation, but the conversation was cut off. And no one ever heard from Guzman again.

(WLA first reported on the issue
here but, for the full tale, do yourself a favor and read Daniel Hernandez’ wonderful LA Weekly story on Guzman and his mother, Maria Carbajal.)

His mother took weeks away from her job working nights at Jack in the Box to search for her son
, with no luck. She got zero help from the feds who, when she pleaded for their assistance, basically said, “Not our problem.”

(We understand that people make mistakes. But the responsible among us try then to rectify them.)

In any case, he’s found now—after being missing for three months— and was reunited with his family this afternoon.

Here are some clips from the ACLU press release that came out a little while ago:

….He told his family today that he attempted to cross the border several times but was turned away. He said he walked fromTijuana to Mexicali, a distance of more than 100 miles, and ate out of trash cans as he
looked for a way back into the U.S. His family says he was nearly unrecognizable…

Border agents detained Mr. Guzman as he attempted to cross into the U.S. near Calexico early Sunday morning. County officials had issued a warrant for his failure to appear at probation hearings, (!!!!!) despite attempts by the family and ACLU/SC to explain to probationofficials that he had been wrongfully deported.

(Good grief. And we wonder why our prisons are filled with people who have committed no new crimes but are simply arrested for technical violations of their probation or parole.)

The government had promised to immediately notify the family and their attorneys if it found Mr. Guzman. Instead, it took 36 hours for the family to be notified.

Mr. Guzman spent two days in jail (WHY EXACTLY?) before Superior Court Judge Carlos Chung ordered him released Tuesday morning. Late Monday night, ACLU/SC staff had met with Mr. Guzman at Men’s Central Jail and confirmed his identity. This afternoon, Sheriff’s Department officials transported him from downtown Los Angeles to the Antelope Valley Courthouse,where he was reunited with his mother, Maria Carbajal.

The family’s last contact with Mr. Guzman was May 11, when he called his sister-in-law from a borrowed cell phone to say he had been deported to Tijuana. The call cut off, and Carbajal rushed to Tijuana but was unable to locate him.

And so ends a harrowing three-month search. Thankfully Guzman’s okay. At least physically, anyway. And a mother gets her son back.

It’s a story that could have had a very different ending. It didn’t. But it could have.
************************************************************************
UPDATE: According the lawsuit filed by the family, Guzman, who could neither read nor write, and has trouble processing information, was first asked about his immigration status in jail. And he told deputies—not that he was born in Mexico—but that he was born in California but had Mexican parents.

“Sometime after that,” writes the AP, “the Sheriff’s Department identified him as a non-citizen, obtained his signature for voluntary removal from the United States and turned him over to Customs and Immigration Enforcement, a division of the Homeland Security Department, for deportation.”

Also, instead of being in jail the 40 days that was expected, he was in jail around 20 days, thus the family was unaware of his release date until it was too late. (As you’ll see, I’ve corrected it above.)

The AP’s Peter Prengaman also writes that Guzman’s mother described her son as being very deteriorated, psychologically.

Guzman was shaking, stuttering and appeared traumatized,his family said at a news conference. The family said it planned to seek medical attention for Guzman, who was not at the news conference.

“They took him whole, but only returned half of him to me,” his mother, Maria Carbajal, said in Spanish while crying….


(photo of Pedro Guzman taken August 7, after reuniting with his family—courtesy of the ACLU of Southern California)

Posted in ACLU, Civil Rights, immigration, LA County Jail | 30 Comments »

30 Responses

  1. listener_on_the_sidelines Says:

    Thanks for the update, Celeste. Whew! How fortunate for Pedro and his Mom. The ending to this story could have been so very different. And, I am so glad it worked out the way it did.

  2. Woody Says:

    Just our luck. The only guy deported to Mexico turns out to be a legal citizen of our country.

  3. Pokey Says:

    I guess Pedro has never heard of a Collect Call.

    I guess his family did not have any clue when he would get out of jail.

    I guess the ACLU must have spent days in Mexico looking for Pedro (NOT).

    I guess Pedro must have been educated in a LAUSD school.

  4. Pokey Says:

    More left wing cry baby lies

    The real truth about this story is that PEDRO deporting himself so that he could get out of jail in 20 days instead of serving the full 120 days of his sentence.

    That’s right, he deported himself. He said, to L.A. Sheriff’s custody assistant Sandra Figueras that he “entered the United States illegally at San Ysidro, CA on Sept 9 1989” at the age of 12 years old.

    He did this apparently to get out of jail 100 days early, most likely thinking that he would just come back over the border like every other illegal.

    Yes, he may be developmentally disabled, but PEDRO was smart enough to have obtained drugs and been arrested for drug possession in his past. PEDRO was smart enough to want to get out of jail early. PEDRO was smart enough to LIE.

    Just to dumb to use a phone.

  5. Woody Says:

    Pokey, didn’t you know that Pedro’s problems were because of the failure of society and government, and by government we don’t mean the L.A. Sheriff’s Department but the Bush adminstration, which had it in for Pedro because of his popping up in a Bush speech about controlling our borders – LINK.

  6. Celeste Fremon Says:

    Pokey, I don’t know if you’re deliberately cherry picking facts or if you’re just not reading far enough. In any case, your conclusions are preposterous.

    Read a little further. I have to run to a meeting or I’d provide links.

    Cheers.

  7. richard locicero Says:

    Pokey and Woody aren’t cherry picking anything Celeste. They just don’t care.

  8. listener_on_the_sidelines Says:

    Or, care only to the extent that it gives them one more opportunity to fan their ever glorious quasi-consevative creds.

  9. Pokey Says:

    Send PEDRO to Jail or Send him your $20

    But remember that PEDRO committed a crime and was sentenced to 120 days in jail. He served 20 days by lying to the sheriff about his citizenship.

    He roamed around Mexico for less than 90 days when he should have been in jail.

    He still owes at least 10 days in jail and maybe the 90 that he spent in Mexico.

    So please put PEDRO back in jail

    But if your feeling like a Libel Licentious Lefty Lenient Liberal —

    Then please pull out your check book and send PEDRO a check for $20 dollars.

  10. Willie Coleman Says:

    What a shame, the suit I mean. So this criminal who apparently confessed to being an illegal, and signed voluntary deportation papers in an effor to avoid prosecution in this country, gets what he asked for, deportation. Only thing is, it did not work out his way, and now he files suit. Our taxes would have to triple in order for there to be enough officers to investigate every case that comes down the pipe to the point that the liberals think it should have been investigated. Next time send him to Cuba. Maybe he will not be so fortunate as to come back an file suit.

  11. Mavis Beacon Says:

    I guess these are jokes? Maybe Pokey could use a couple couch sessions with GM.

  12. Ms. Gomez Says:

    I agree with Pokey. I teach developmentally disabled individuals and have found that some of these people are smart enough to get drugs and to try and get out of going to jail. Wouldn’t it be nice to send more people who choose to break the law to Mexico! (just kidding)!

  13. Woody Says:

    LotS, the government isn’t responsible for every stupid decision in life made by individuals. As a youth, if I had gotten into trouble by going somewhere that I shouldn’t (which I never did), my parents would have asked what I was doing there rather than saying that the government is responsible. Sometimes people need to realize that they are personally responsible for their lies and bad decisions.

    Maybe Pedro will pay back to the taxpayers all the extra expense that he has cost us rather than the other way around.

  14. richard locicero Says:

    I’m glad that Woody is such a law and ordr conservative. And I’m sure that when the IRS or other feds go after his accounting clients and ask fior complete financial records he complies smilingly. After all, if they’re innocent they have nothing to hide so I’m sure he doesn’t make them go to the trouble of getting a court order or a warrant.

  15. Daniel Says:

    What these people who are so anti Pedro and pro-Police all have in common is that they do not understand the the system does to people. Once you have a friend or loved one go through it , then you understand. The police are unable to “police” themselves, they are automatically “always right”. They start with that conclusion and work backwards with twisted fallacious reasoning.

    The lawsuit is unfortunately the only possible remedy left as a check on police misconduct and mistakes, Unless enough people get tired of the abuse to insist on system changes to prevent future problems.

    Just my opinion!

  16. Woody Says:

    Daniel, I deal with similar situations regularly–maybe worse. With the IRS, a taxpayer has to prove that he is innocent rather than the Service prove that he is guilty. My clients obey the law and we gladly produce records to defend them against arbitrary and high assessements–no subpoenas needed. At least Pedro was innocent until proven guilty.

    Sometimes computers spit out notices assessing more tax, and most of those notices are wrong. But, many people still pay that because they don’t know how to deal with the Service and are afraid of more problems with them. I received a computer prepared/camera traffic ticket for my car but I wasn’t the driver. Pedro didn’t get fined for a crime that he didn’t do and then have to convince the judge that someone else committed the offense.

    I tell ya’, it’s a hard life.

    But, Pedro pulled enough shananigans that he put himself where he did, and he was too stupid to even call someone to help him.

    Yeah, I have sympathy, but only for actual cases of real wrongs and not something this silly. There are worse offenses and injustices that should be considered than this.

  17. maggie Says:

    If Pedro is prone to such “irrational behavior” (to put it mildly) as trying to climb onto private plans as they’re taking off, he seems too potentially dangerous to have been left walking around the streets, anyway. And what if he had gotten on board and was only discovered when in flight? Can you imagine the panic then? If it were a commercial flight, he’d have been detained as a possible terrorist and the whole airport closed. (Is there such a lack of security private airports? Now, that is scary.)

    When my Dad was found wandering around the streets disoriented after getting out of the house when my harried mother was preoccupied, social services (in a smaller city back east) warned her that if it happened again, he’d be taken away to become a ward of the state. She solved the problem by having every door and window alarmed 24/7. It seems that a young, able-bodied man this disoriented is even more of a danger than an old man with Alzheimer’s — sorry if keeping an eye on him is a burden for his family, but he is their burden, not society’s.

  18. Mavis Beacon Says:

    What a depressing bunch of comments. I’ve never heard such callousness toward the disabled in my life. “They’re not our problem. It’s not confusion, it’s trickery! And he’s a criminal!” If you don’t see a difference between a confused mentally disabled person wandering on to an airfield and a real criminal, well I hope you enjoy your stay in hell. I imagine you all walk around calling yourselves Christians. I’d love for you all to present your pastor or priest with your comments.

  19. Woody Says:

    Well, I will compliment Pedro on the fashion statement that he makes with his draped shirt and tossled hair.

    Good night, Mavis. This isn’t a religious issue and it’s not an issue about the disabled. It’s about a criminal, and most criminals, in my view, are somewhat crazy or psychos. Do you feel sorry for Charles Manson?

  20. Mavis Beacon Says:

    I’m sorry, after my post arguing that not all law breakers are equal, Woody responds by suggesting I must feel the same way about Pedro as I do about Charles Manson. Can anyone follow his logic?

    And we can be certain that in Woody’s World the role of religion isn’t to teach compassion toward fellow man but to get out the vote for Republicans.

  21. listener_on_the_sidelines Says:

    Mavis, sort of sounds like you could use an antidote. I humbly recommend a dose of: http://tinyurl.com/36pfyk

  22. maggie Says:

    Mavis, a “confused mentally disabled person” should not be in a position to be “wandering onto an airfield.” That is the point. IF he’s like a child mentally, he should be treated like one and cared for like a child by his family — in this case, he clearly has a family — for his safety and the public’s. Instead, they abrogated that responsibility to let someone they knew was unfit to be roaming the streets alone, to do just that and get in trouble. And then, they are suing the government, when they should have been doing their jobs.

    This is not to say that the government didn’t err, too; if they could see he was mentally unstable, they should have referred him for mental observation someone, not send him across the border — so I believe he must have let them to believe that he lived in Mexico. But again, this would never have happened if he’d been properly supervised by his family. To me, what is depressing is the left-liberal notion that the government should absolve individuals and their families of responsibility.

  23. Woody Says:

    Compassion doesn’t mean that you become co-dependent and cover for the mistakes of misfits. You can be compassionate to someone getting ready to hit the electric chair and know at the same time that the criminal is getting his just reward.

  24. poplock Says:

    Last I know, calling collect from Tijuana Mexico to the U.S. runs an average of $1 dollar a minute. At a residence home and at a discounted land line price, it runs like 50 cents a minute. Even a cell phone to cell phone call within Tijuana runs like $3.00 a minute plus unexplained fees. Its like three times the amount on a cell phone from Tijuana to the U.S as well. How do you think that Lebanon guy in Mexico got to be the riches guy in the world. Whoever allowed him to have a quick cell phone call was probably being really REALLY generous and economically well off. Most people use cell phones for only incoming calls, text messeging, or nextel walkie talkie exchange. Even drug dealers dont call each other long distance. Moreover, in Tijuana you never let anyone use your cell phone, running after a petty thief is not funny. Morover, its not easy to figure out the public phones in Mexico. Some public phones, you need to buy a pre-paid calling card just to kick start the phone booth.
    Here is were I believe that the guy’s story is legit on not being able to call the U.S. If he is a disable person, it would pretty hard to figure out or get an explaination on using a public phone. Someone would have to basically stand next to you and explain it step by step or physically do it for you. Sad thing is that the majority of people in Tijuana (due to not trusting anyone) will just look at this guy and walk the opposite direction. I dont blame them.

    Now on walking from Tijuana to Mexcali….that’s a straight bullshit lie.

    Here is where I dont get the facts on the government side. If LA County Sheriffs handed over Guzman to ICE (the feds-Homeland Security), ICE has procedures to run a person again and again, run prints, confirm social security numbers, request a certify birth certificate from the country of orgin for identity confirmation (in case he jumps back in), and will ask the country if the person being deported is warranted for a serious crime. All this must be completed prior to getting your ass kick back to your home sweet home. The feds “detain and release” policy is only allowed and used at the discretion of officers at the Mexican border. This policy is only applied to those of Mexican orgin, all other foreigners get detained, processed, and deported. Someone please help me out here. Is ICE/Homeland Security so incompetent???
    Someone once told me that those guys are just your C-average high school diploma who act like circus clowns and monkeys at the border. More like a rented security. The salary sucks and the people are mostly clueless. I thought it was over something personal the guy expericenced at the crossing but its starting to sound legit.

  25. poplock Says:

    Will LASD give up the Money?
    Then I thought that LASD is liable – due to his criminal acts and demeanor at the time of the arrest, a pychological evaluation request form should have been filled out and a referral process completed, with or without a criminal past or being an illegal.
    This means that this type of mistakes against a mentally ill person can re-occur time after time again. I read somewhere that it has happened more than once before. The procedure is not working and Guzman was a victim of a failed policy. How much is a lawsuit involving discrimination against a mentally ill person going for????

  26. Celeste Fremon Says:

    Poplock, all your phone comments are dead on the money. To add to it, Guzman was not able to memorize telephone numbers but had his brother’s number written on a scrap of paper that he carried with him in a tiny, plastic container. It evidently disappeared after that first call.

    Yeah, I think LASD is going to end up being bigtime liable for certain. Prior to his discharge interview, he’d told a deputy he was born in the U.S.. Then, evidently, he believed he was going home (he was to go home and have an ankle bracelet for the remaining 20 days) and just said “yes” to anything they asked him without complete comprehension.

    Also, LASD had his previous record that indicated he was a citizen.

    As for ICE, beats me. Incompetence seems to be running amok everywhere you look. I certainly can say, the state doesn’t do any better. I’m reporting on someone right now who’s in North Kern County where they’ve had an INS hold on him for months, even though his wife sent them his County General-born birth certificate weeks and weeks ago.

    *****************

    And for anyone else who happens to still be reading this thread: I agree with Mavis…..there are some mighty depressing comments here about appropriate treatment for the mentally disabled. Good lord.

  27. listener_on_the_sidelines Says:

    Thanks, again poplock. Your comments offer a boatload of context. Real good stuff.

    How much is a lawsuit involving discrimination against a mentally ill person going for???? I dunno, but I have a feeling LASD is going to find out.

    I’m with you on the depressing comments, Celeste. :(

  28. Pilar Vazquez Says:

    The law suit will be successful if they base this case on the lack of interest the authority to look for him after they had violated the first and the fifth articles of the US Constitution and many other legal procedures while the focused about profoling him. Good luck to him and his family in the overcome to this horrible story.
    This time the square minded system didn’t follow the book.

  29. Emma Salazar-Duffield Says:

    Los Angeles County is not the bightest star shining in the skies as far as intelligence they do violate peoples rights, human, civil and consitutional. I have seen it first hand, I have also seen them black list people to where they could not even get a job. Mind you I am an ex-government employee, who has seen the tactics, abuses and ploys exercised by our county and city governments. Truths are twisted, lies are concockted to say their skins and their pensions. Gloria Molina has long forgotten who put her in office, while she once accepted money raised from the ladies making tamales and aiding her to get elected, now she frowns on them as she never knew them! It is not only the immigrnts that suffer the abuse, a a large majority of the victims are women, and no one wants to hear it and take responsibility for it. No one has courage to defend those, and if you defend yourself you are labled as a trouble maker. Those in power got there by having no integrity and stepping on people. Don’t kid yourselves, I am sure that Pedro endured more than what he is sharing, but as a matter of dignity and shame that he was a victim he is not sharing all.

    Currently there are women who have been gang raped by the police in this county when they were stopped for an alleged infraction, and the irony is those women lost all and the criminal cops are still on our tax payrolls and doing it to other women, why? because judges in places are a part of the good ol’ boy society and rewarded them for adding another knotch to their belts of cowardness. If those judges and officer were real men with cojones and honor, they would have removed themselves once burnt out. Don’t be so qucik to judge Predro he was a victim, Consider this and other things can hapen to you or yours.

  30. Emma Salazar-Duffield Says:

    Los Angeles County is not the brightest star shining in the skies as far as intelligence they do violate people’s rights, human, civil and consitutional. I have seen it first hand, I have also seen them black list people to where they could not even get a job. Mind you, I am an ex-government employee, who has seen the tactics, abuses and ploys exercised by our county and city governments. Truths are twisted, lies are concockted to save their skins and their pensions. Gloria Molina has long forgotten who put her in office, while she once accepted money raised from the ladies making tamales and aiding her to get elected, now she frowns on them as she never knew them! It is not only the immigrants that suffer the abuse, a large majority of the victims are women, and no one wants to hear it and take responsibility for it. No one has courage to defend them, as our government sees no mor than if they were chattel, and if you defend yourself you are labled as a trouble maker. Those in power got there to that high position by having no integrity and stepping on people. Don’t kid yourselves, I am sure that Pedro endured more than what he is sharing, but as a matter of dignity and respect to himself, and the shame that he was a victim he is not sharing all.

    Currently there are women who have been gang raped by the police in this county when they were stopped for an alleged infraction, and the irony is those women lost all and the criminal cops are still on our tax payrolls and doing it to other women, why? because judges in places are a part of the good ol’ boy society and rewarded them for adding another knotch to their belts of cowardness. If those judges and officer were real men with cojones and honor, they would have removed themselves once burnt out. Some of these women were coerced into signing pleas of guilt for violations they did not committ, and you know why? thinking that all these would go away and it didn’t it just began. In one occassion one woman plead guilty to resisting arrest after having been beaten and raped in front of her minor sons by several officers, and her resisting arrest conviction which is a misdameanor, nothing more than an infraction she was given a sentence of 3 years probation, 200 hours of community service,and a hugh fine of several thousands of dollars, while the Paris Hiltons, Nicole Ritche’s Lindsay Lohan’ are given a smile and hotel cell. IS THAT JUSTICE. Of course it isn’t it just that they have the potential to donate money to the politicians and judges, and all the others that feel need to have their palms greased.

    Don’t be so quick to judge Predro he was a victim, Consider this and other things can happen to you or yours.

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