Pedro Guzman sues government

From the AP story:

A wrongly deported U.S. citizen who was missing for months in Mexico sued the Department of Homeland Security and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department on Wednesday.

Pedro Guzman, 30, who is mentally disabled, was deported last May after he was arrested and jailed on a misdemeanor trespassing charge. For nearly three months, his family searched for him in shelters, jails and morgues in Tijuana, Mexico, and the surrounding area.

During that time, he rummaged for food in garbage cans, washed himself in rivers and walked as far south as Ensenada — more than 60 miles from the U.S.-Mexico border, according to the lawsuit.

Guzman tried to return to the United States several times, but was turned away. He was found near the Calexico border crossing in August and reunited with his family.

“I will never forget what Peter looked like when he finally returned to the U.S. — exhausted and in terrible shape,” said Guzman’s brother, Michael. “Peter’s life is forever changed by what his government did to him.”

His lawsuit, which seeks unspecified damages, was filed in federal court in Los Angeles by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of Guzman.

“Not only does Peter and his mother want some vindication, they want to make sure immigration officials understand they can’t do this,” said attorney Jim Brosnahan, who represents Guzman. “They should have apologized and said they would take steps to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”

A statement released by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, a branch of Homeland Security, called the incident a “one-of-a-kind case” and added more than 1 million illegal immigrants have been deported since the agency’s inception.

See other posts on Guzman here and here.

Cross-posted at The Gimp Parade

This entry posted in Disabled Rights & Issues, Immigration, Migrant Rights, etc, In the news. Bookmark the permalink. 

10 Responses to Pedro Guzman sues government

  1. 1
    Charles says:

    I hadn’t heard anything about this case in a while. I’m so happy his family found him. I hope he ends up a millionaire several times over.

  2. 2
    Sailorman says:

    I’m confused. We already have an unfortunate number of of false imprisonment, false arrest, and other similar cases. To me, this is merely in that class, but happens to have resulted in deportation rather than, say, fines, jail, etc etc.

    So I feel sorry for Guzman, as I do for everyone who is later vindicated. I generally support restitution for people who are harmed in that fashion. But I don’t think this is much different from those other cases. Am I missing something?

  3. 3
    RonF says:

    If the facts are as represented here I hope he wins. I don’t necessarily think that it means that he should never have to work again in his life. But there should be a substantial settlement, and there should be an investigation and personnel or procedural changes (or both).

  4. 4
    Radfem says:

    I know of one guy who was a citizen and was threatened several times with deportation at the jail but wasn’t deported. If this lawsuit leads to changes in L.A. County, then hopefully it leads to other LE agencies reexamining their own practices as well. Not that I believe that will happen.

  5. 5
    mythago says:

    .I don’t necessarily think that it means that he should never have to work again in his life.

    He’s mentally disabled. I don’t think that if he is successful in this lawsuit that he is going to give up his job packaging high-yield securities to go buy a house on the French Riviera.

  6. 6
    jennifer says:

    I hope that this case at least makes a legal inroads and an impact for future generations, even if there is no money for compensation for wages lost or pain and suffering.

  7. 7
    Day Al-Mohamed says:

    The event of Pedro Guzman’s deportation has caught the attention of the Federal Government, including some rather courageous House members (remember immigrant issues are not popular right now).

    The House Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security, and International Law chaired by Rep. Zoe Lofgren held a hearing the other week addressing “Problems with ICE Interrogation, Detention, and Removal Procedures.”

    She and a number of other House members DIRECTLY addressed the Pedro Guzman case, asking the ICE official some harsh questions and demanding answers.

    Pedro Guzman’s attorney was present and provided testimony as was an attorney from the Florence project who spoke specifically about how ICE does not provide appropriate accommodations to people with disabilities and indeed that people with mental disabilties were being detained and even pushed towards deportation.

    It was a great hearing that took something that was wholly in the media and disability blogging community and really put it under a magnifying glass…a Congressional magnifying glass (after all, they’re the ones who fund ICE).

    The hearing information and testimony is available at:

    and by Monday I hope to have a summary available on my site.

    One of the sadder aspects of the hearing was that the disability community was not present to reinforce the importance of this, especially in light of the recent problems with law enforcement and disability. But hopefully, that will not be the case should this arise again.

    This Comment/Response is Cross-Posted at Gimp Parade (Thanks Kay!)

    Day Al-Mohamed

  8. 8
    RonF says:

    He’s mentally disabled. I don’t think that if he is successful in this lawsuit that he is going to give up his job packaging high-yield securities to go buy a house on the French Riviera.

    I’m not sure what you mean by this.

  9. 9
    Emily says:


    Some cases of false arrest/imprisonment occurr because non-governmental actors LIE to police/prosecutors, etc, accusing someone of a crime he/she did not commit. There is only so much that can be done to prevent that type of false imprisonment/arrest.

    However in this case, the illegal deportation was accomplished by government actors exclusively. There is no one to blame but the government itself. That, to me, is more egregious. Government actors, supposedly doing their job, who do not care to do it properly and who stomp on the rights of minority Americans because they assume they are “foreign” or “other.” I feel equally strongly about false arrest/imprisonment that occurs because of police misconduct, testilying, and prosecutorial suppression of exculpatory evidence.

    It’s one thing if random citizens lie. It’s another thing when people use their position of trust and power to punish people they believe to be guilty of something without taking the time to sort out the facts or do their job properly. And especially when it’s because of race. That’s unconstitutional. The people responsible should lose their jobs, because they don’t care enough about the trust we have placed in them to do their jobs carefully and competently according to the laws of our country. And Mr. Guzman and his family should be compensated for the direct harm that our government perpetrated on them completely illegally.

  10. 10
    mythago says:

    RonF, you made the comment “I don’t necessarily think that it means that he should never have to work again in his life”, which suggests that you were concerned that Guzman would receive an unfair and unwarranted amount of money from his lawsuit that would free him from a life of honest, hard work.