Thursday, June 21, 2007

Guzman Wanted to Fly

Yesterday I obtained from ICE all the documents the Federal government has filed in response to the ACLU lawsuit Guzman v. Chertoff et al. I need to reprint them before scanning in the relevant portions because they include paperwork that says "for office use only" and I do not want to violate Pedro Guzman's privacy. (Background on Pedro Guzman, a citizen deported from the United States, 
is here: #1#2#3.)

From the perspective of ICE the case seems to be about a man who deliberately lied about his citizenship status, effectively tricking the government into sending him to Tijuana. Although one early document raises questions about the authenticity of his birth certificate, the premise in general is that Guzman is a U.S. citizen and that he fabricated an elaborate story leading to his deportation:

The gist is that on April 26, 2007 Mr. Guzman "was referred" to ICE for questioning on his immigrant status. All of the filings from the government use this passive tense, without indicating exactly who in the L.A. County jail referred Mr. Guzman for this interview and the grounds for taking this action. This seems to be the first (mis)step toward his deportation.

According to a sworn statement by Sandra Figueras, who has been working as a Custody Assistant with the Los Angeles County Jail since January, 2000, Mr. Guzman not only told her that he was born in Nayarit, Mexico, but he also said that he had entered the United States illegally at a specific time and place.

The confusion seems to be due to the fact that around that time, Mr. Guzman went with his family from California to visit Mexico, and returned. If he were asked when he was last in Nayarit, he might have indicated this time frame. (My speculation here is based on statements also in this document from Mr. Guzman's brothers, Juan Chabes and Michael Guzman, who told an ICE field investigator that he had last visited Nayarit when he was 11, which would have been 1988.)

One major source of dispute is whether Mr. Guzman is mentally disabled (his family's claim) or whether this is just a fancy idea placed in their heads by a meddlesome journalist. According to an ICE Deportation Officer Jorge Field, Jr., "it was not until a reporter asked them about his mental capacity and suggested there may be a problem that they ever thought about Pedro Guzman in this manner."

The police report of the event leading to Mr. Guzman's arrest and eventually his deportation indicates that on March 30, 2007 Mr. Guzman tried to board a plane at the Lancaster Airport without paying; the charge was vandalism. He also was arrested for driving a stolen vehicle.

Curious about the details, I called the Lancaster Airport and spoke to the manager, Steve Irving. He told me that Mr. Guzman was in his car and followed a fuel truck onto the tarmac. Mr. Guzman left his car and tried boarding a charter plane that was about to take-off. I asked Mr. Irving if Guzman gave any explanation as to why he was trying to fly, and Mr. Irving said no. I said that it seemed a bit odd that someone would do this and what did he think the motive was. Mr. Irving, who had no idea of the legal contest now pending, did his best to be helpful: "It falls under the category of mental illness."

This is interesting, and the analysis seems consistent not only with the lawsuit's claims but also with the police response. Think about it: a post 9-11 event involving a guy trying to board a plane, refusing to leave; the police arrive and charge him only with vandalism and not a more serious federal felony of attempted hijacking or other terrorist-related crimes. Sounds like the police might have been in agreement with Mr. Irving.

1 comment:

Jodi said...

great blog. Here is the book I mentioned: Reading the Holocaust

#End read more