A man who had been living in California for over 20 years died after unsuccessfully trying to reenter the United States from Mexico. His family is now considering a lawsuit against immigration authorities after they allegedly failed to search for the man until five days after being notified that he was missing. A friend had asked the victim to take over their store for a little while because there was an emergency. While he was there, a police officer entered the store and asked for his identity, ostensibly to check his immigration status.
What resulted from there is almost hard to believe. The police officer contacted the Border Patrol after the man showed his Mexican identification card, and the man was deported. He attempted to get back to the United States by agreeing to pay a smuggler almost $3,000 in return for his help, but he became sick after a day of walking through the desert. One of the man’s companions during the trip urged the smuggler to stop marching. However, he refused, so the man took the victim’s cellphone but was unable to contact 911 until two hours later.
Border Patrol responded and arrested the man’s companion. He told them where the victim was and offered to bring them there, but the agents apparently would not go. The man was unable to notify the victim’s family until two days later, after he was released in Mexicali. His family in turn contacted the Border Patrol, but when they finally accepted the man’s offer of help, they found the victim deceased and his body significantly decomposed.
The man’s family is now considering a lawsuit in California, claiming immigration authorities had the opportunity to save him but refused solely because of his undocumented status. If the man had been rescued, presumably he would be subject to deportation once again, but the fact that immigration authorities allegedly appeared more interested in checking identification and deporting undocumented immigrants than in saving an individual is of serious concern. Whether the lawsuit will be successful is unknown, but because of what happened, the man’s wife is left with five children and no source of income.
Source: Fox Latino, “Family of man who died in Arizona desert may sue Border Patrol,” June 1, 2012