American citizen wrongfully deported to Mexico

American citizen Luis Alberto Delgado was wrongfully deported and recently returned back to the United States - photo by Nick De La Torre

Illegal immigration laws are a major part of how America operates in terms of attempting to keep the economy under control. But, some costly and preventable mistakes have been made by law enforcement officials. An American-born citizen has come back home after being wrongfully deported to Mexico.

Luis Alberto Delgado, 19, was pulled over for a traffic violation while driving in southern Texas on July 17 and was detained under suspicion of his citizenship. Delgado presented various forms of documentation to prove his citizenship, like his birth certificate, Social Security card and Texas ID, after being interrogated. But, the deputy overlooked the evidence due to a lack of fluency in Delgado’s English.

After hours of questioning, Delgado was influenced to sign paperwork indicating that he would voluntarily leave the country and waive his rights to a lawyer, hoping that by signing it, he could challenge the accusations. Instead of returning home, Delgado was driven to Matamoros, Mexico and left there by the Border Patrol.

Isaias Torres, a Houston immigration lawyer who took up Delgado’s case for free, said that the people who questioned Delgado said “these are not your documents. You’re lying to us. You’re going to jail for 20 years.” Torres also said that this case was unusual in that the client presented proper documentation upon request.

“This was basically a language thing. They thought he was lying because he didn’t speak English well,” Torres said, providing reasoning for this error in judgment.

Torres couldn’t be more correct in his statement that this mishap was a result of Delgado’s below-average English speaking abilities. It seems common for people to not only make assumptions that Latino or Hispanic citizens with thick accents are in the country illegally but that they are of Mexican descent.

It can’t be disputed that a decent number of Mexicans have illegally entered the United States in the past and the border between Mexico and the United States is now under close surveillance to ensure that no one enters the country without going through the correct legal process. But this information should not lead anyone to believe that all people with a Spanish accent are in this country illegally.

What is America if not a melting pot of all different religions, cultures and races? Most likely the same people who judge those within the Hispanic and Latino community are the same people who are judged by others for not meeting some criteria set for the supposed ideal American. Individual people judging people is bad enough as it is, but law enforcement using those same stereotypes on the public they are meant to serve and protect is a disaster in itself.

Law enforcement officials should be able to separate their opinions and beliefs while at home and while on duty. While it is impossible for a person to completely separate themselves from their beliefs and opinions, because the decisions made are justified by those beliefs, it is still problematic when those values infringe on the rights of others. If this is the case, these beliefs taken into the work force should be reevaluated.

The morality of the law enforcement officials in this case should be questioned. It seems like they badgered Delgado into signing paperwork to remove him from the country without probable reason. Perhaps it was done this way to speed up his removal because they had already taken it too far to go back. Whatever the cause, it was not based on logic or evidence, which is the only reason a process like this should be carried out.

This isn’t the only instance of citizens being mistakenly prosecuted. For years, law enforcement officials have made false arrests, detainments and injuries based off of nothing more than stereotypes and misconceptions. But what makes the case of Delgado so unique is the fact that his proof of citizenship was provided in several forms, but he was still taken in and interrogated solely because of his inability to speak proper English.

If government officials are allowed to make such unacceptable mistakes and not even attempt to justify their actions, how long will it be before they completely disregard the will of the people and work primarily based on their beliefs and ideals alone?

Published Sept. 29, 2010 in “The Signal”


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