Published December 22, 2016
The classmates of a 9-year-old Mexican boy who, along with his family, was denied re-entry to the United States earlier this year have launched a campaign urging the U.S. government to let him come back.
The students of Rodrigo Guzman’s fourth grade class at Jefferson Elementary School in Berkeley, Calif. say that their friend belongs in the United States, not in a country that he left when he was younger than 2 years old.
“He hates it there,” said Scott Kuwahara, 9, according to the website Berkeleyside.com. “He doesn’t really speak Spanish that well, but he speaks really good English. He is tired of Mexican food. He wants American food. He wants hot dogs.”
The students and Scott’s mother, Mabel Yee, launched “Bring Rodrigo Home – Kids for Kids,” hoping it will help Rodrigo get permission to return.
U.S. authorities denied Rodrigo and his parents re-entry into the United States from Mexico because they had expired visitors’ visas, according to the website. The parents had several times renewed their visas, the website said, but “Rodrigo’s parents let the visas lapse in recent years, a fact immigration officials noticed when they tried to reenter the country after a Christmas trip to Mexico.”
U.S. authorities told the parents they would have to wait five years before they could reapply for a visa.
The campaign for Rodrigo also includes writing letters to President Obama and Congress, and having a petition on Change.org. They've also set up a website to call attention to Rodrigo's situation.
"Rodrigo is having to make major adjustments in Mexico," the website for Rodrigo says. "He barely speaks Spanish, his parents are struggling to find work and he has difficulty adjusting to school. Rodrigo can't accept that he isn't allowed to come back to the only home he has ever known in Berkeley."
His classmates and parents are angry but determined to bring him back.
The Berkeley Unified School District Board passed a resolution asking Congress to pass the kind of immigration reform that would make it easier for Rodrigo to return. And the Berkeley City Council has considered passing a similar resolution.
“Hopefully we can come up with a humanitarian solution that fixes this problem,” said City Councilman Kriss Worthington, according to Berkeleyside.com
“It isn’t fair he is stuck in Mexico,” said Kaiya Daniels, 9, a classmate. “All of his classmates and all of his friends miss him and he misses Berkeley. I want him to be able to come back to Berkeley and to Jefferson.”
The boy identifies with all things American, friends say. His primary language is English.
Maggie Riddle, the Principal of Jefferson, calls him “thoughtful, kind, athletic – everything you could want in a student.”