Like many others, when I first heard about the case of Pedro Guzman, an American wrongfully deported to Tijuana, I chuckled. Then I sought out his mother Maria Carbajal and began spending time with her in TJ as she searched the streets for signs of Pedro. Previous news updates on the story are here and here. From my piece this week, already online:
As she searches for her son, questions swirl around her: Why was Pedro singled out to be screened by immigration? Why would he lie about his status? Why hasn’t he called us back? Did he find work? Did he go farther south?
"Only he knows how to answer that, when he is present," Carbajal says. Lawyers fighting for the government and for the ACLU have a lot of questions too: Is Guzman mentally disabled? Was he coerced or convinced at some point during his time in county jail to sign a voluntary deportation order? Could it be possible that he wanted to be deported?
It is late June, six weeks since Pedro entered Mexico at San Ysidro, the southernmost district of San Diego. He hasn’t been heard from since his initial phone call home. Carbajal left her job on the night shift of a Jack in the Box to stay behind and keep up the search. It took some time, she says, to get used to daylight again.
"I don’t have a schedule. I find someone who says they saw him, or saw someone who looks like him. I’ll go meet them, it doesn’t matter what time it is," Carbajal says. "But nothing, no one has given me anything."
Check back here and at LAWeekly.com for updates on the link. See also the blog States Without Nations, which has been monitering the case. Also check out the ACLU's Jails Project, and this piece from the Weekly archives by Jeff Anderson about the Kafka-esque hell of immigrant detention centers. * Photo of the Tijuana River by borderlinejohnnie.
* SHOUT-OUT: I want to thank the students in Mr. Ben Gertner's journalism class at Roosevelt High School in Boyle Heights. Mr. Gertner asked me to visit last week and the group had some very good questions and thoughts about a lot of subjects, like transportation in L.A., gentrification, and media. Thank you again.
** ON PEDRO GUZMAN: If you have any questions or comments, I invite readers to post them below. This is a free space for discussion.