June 18, 2007

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: media@aclu.org

ACLU of Southern California Asks Judge to Order U.S. to Assist in the Search

LOS ANGELES — Pedro Guzman is still missing in Mexico, one week after a lawsuit was filed seeking government help in the search for the 29-year-old mentally impaired man illegally deported May 11. The ACLU of Southern California and law firm Van Der Hout, Brigagliano & Nightingale have asked that government agents assist in the search and request help from Mexican authorities, two steps the U.S. has so far refused to take.

In a court hearing Wednesday, a federal judge declined to order the U.S. to assist in the family’s search. But in legal papers filed Friday, the dean of Yale Law School urged the court to order the government into action.

U.S. District Court Judge George King asked the government to respond by 2 p.m. today and indicated he may order a hearing.

Pedro Guzman's mother, brothers and sister-in-law returned to Tijuana last Friday to continue the search, now in its fifth week. The family distributed posters with a photo of Mr. Guzman and met with volunteers who work among Tijuana's homeless community. His mother, Maria Carbajal, remained there today.

Without immediate action from U.S. agents in Mexico, "Pedro Guzman will not be found," ACLU of Southern California Legal Director Mark Rosenbaum told the court last Wednesday. "It would be the right thing to do, it would be the moral thing to do," District Court Judge Dean Pregerson said.

The government admitted in court last Wednesday that Guzman is a U.S. citizen, which it had previously disputed. The judge asked that a "lookout," or missing persons report, sent to U.S. ports of entry and the U.S. consulate in Tijuana state that he is a citizen and mention his disability.

While the U.S. government has not actively joined the search, the Salvation Army has offered volunteers to assist the family. "The Salvation Army has done more for my family than the U.S. government," Pedro Guzman's younger brother Michael Guzman told reporters last week.

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