USA - American-Born Teen Deported After Failing To Wear A Seat Belt? | Sikh Philosophy Network
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USA American-Born Teen Deported After Failing To Wear A Seat Belt?

Vikram singh

Feb 25, 2005
Nineteen-year-old Luis Alberto Delgado should have been wearing a seat belt: not only was his safety at sake, but failing to buckle up is illegal, and I know how many readers here feel about illegal acts. Normally, the offense is punishable by a fine of $25 to $50 in Texas, where Delgado and his older brother (the driver) were pulled over. However, in Delgado's case, it lead to a swift deportation, leaving him stranded in Mexico, unable to reenter the United states legally. Yet Delgado asserts that he is an American-born citizen. And he has the birth certificate, Texas ID, and Social Security card to prove it. What proof did immigration authorities have that Delgado was not an American? Why, the fact that he speaks poor English, of course. That alone was enough to convince the police to call U.S. Border Patrol, enough to make immigration authorities insist that he had fake papers, enough to motivate them to coerce Delgado into signing papers that he believe would allow his release, but actually led to him being immediately removed to Mexico. "What they did to me was discrimination," Delgado told the Houston Chronicle from Mexico, where he is waiting after he says he was told by border officials that attempting to reenter the U.S. after deportation could result in a 20-year prison sentence.
Delgado explains that he was born in Houston, TX, but moved to Mexico and spent most of his childhood there, hence his shaky English. Nonetheless, the quality of Delgado's English is not grounds for assuming he is in the United States illegally; as he says, it is discrimination, and very much like the case of the man who was detained for "looking Mexican."
Given the diverse nature of our country, there are many people, immigrants and American-born citizens, who are here legally yet speak with an accent, or have less-than fluent English. Citizens born in Puerto Rico, in particular, generally speak Spanish as their first language. We cannot allow Spanish-speaking members of society to be treated like second-class citizens. Though some people would prefer it to be otherwise, America has no single official language. And even if it did, discrimination is still discrimination; you shouldn't lose all of your rights simply because you speak another language.
News reports are careful to say that immigration authorities "may" have deported a U.S. citizen. But, Delgado has provided all the paperwork to demonstrate that he is an American, and officials simply decided they weren't his. Delgado reports being misled into signing the "voluntary" deportation papers immigration authorities need for a swift removal; with the language barrier and his youth, understanding what was going on would have been difficult in any case. Unfortunately, this is not atypical, because most people caught in the immigration system are unable to access legal counsel and deportation — a massive life-change event — can occur without so much as a trial to determine whether a person is truly guilty of being here illegally.
Even if Delgado does turn out to have been here without authorization, the mismanagement of his case raises red flags regarding the danger American citizens could find themselves in if stopped for something as minor as lacking a seat belt. What kind of country are we living in if all that is required to remove an American citizen from the land of their birth is an immigration official deciding based on an accent that the papers they provide aren't really theirs?

American-Born Teen Deported After Failing to Wear a Seat Belt? | Immigrant Rights |


1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
Vikram Singh ji

This is happening more and more frequently in the south west part of the US. And some kind of organized opposition is going to be needed. I know that SALDEF has already begun to prepare legal briefs and is lobbying with various politicians and judicial authorities at state and federal levels. One group that is experiencing this problem is Sikh truck drivers. These would be individuals who are long-haul truckers - drive those huge 16 wheel trucks and they cross state lines. They are being stopped and it is becoming a serious issue. They may be native-born, or they may be naturalized citizens, or they may have green cards, but it takes forever to explain that they are not Mexicans (if they are not in dastar) or that they are not Taliban (if they are in dastar).

See the bottom line is -- the problem of racial profiling. Racial profiling has never stopped crime. And in fact it contributes to an increase in crime. While the authorities are wasting time profiling and chasing down the innocent, the bad guys are having the time of their lives. swordfight

SALDEF is a good source for more information about this.

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