LOS ANGELES – A federal judge refused to order U.S. authorities to help in the search for a mentally disabled man whose family claims he was wrongly deported to Mexico.
U.S. District Judge Dean Pregerson said Wednesday he wasn't sure that he had the authority to order the government to help find Pedro Guzman, though he said it would be the "right" and "moral" thing to do.
Pregerson asked government lawyers to update him Thursday on what is being done to locate Guzman and what will happen if he appears at a U.S. border checkpoint.
Guzman's relatives say he is a U.S. citizen. They sued the Department of Homeland Security and the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department on Monday, saying they have been searching for the 29-year-old in Tijuana for a month.
He had been arrested on suspicion of misdemeanor trespassing earlier this year, and in April was sentenced to a Los Angeles County jail.
The lawsuit says Guzman was asked about his immigration status in jail and responded that he was born in California. Sometime after that, the Sheriff's Department identified him as a non-citizen, obtained his signature for voluntary removal from the U.S. and turned him over to immigration officials.
U.S. immigration officials confirmed he had been deported and said the agency had done so correctly. Sheriff's officials also said the department followed procedures.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, which helped file the lawsuit, argued that the U.S. government needed to do more to find Guzman. It also urged help from Mexico.