Rodrigo thanks classmates for efforts to bring him home

Community members crammed into the Berkeley City Council chambers Tuesday night to speak out about the absence of 9-year-old Rodrigo Guzman, a Jefferson Elementary School student who was sent back to Mexico with his family in January when they were denied re-entry into the United States due to expired visas. Jefferson students read statements to the council, which later unanimously approved a resolution to fight for the family’s return.

The resolution includes a commitment to send letters to President Barack Obama, Congresswoman Barbara Lee and Senator Dianne Feinstein urging them to write special legislation to grant assistance to the family. The Berkeley Unified School District unanimously passed a similar resolution March 13.

Rodrigo and his family joined the council meeting via a Skype video connection, which Mayor Tom Bates said was a first for Berkeley. (Watch the video of Rodrigo’s statement here.)

“Thank you, everyone, for what you’re doing to try and get me home,” he said. “I hope that in the future people won’t have the same problem just because they don’t have a green card. And I hope that they’ll have the rights to come back. I am very thankful for all… that you guys are doing and I am also very sad at the same time — because I can’t be there. And I hope that this whole thing will turn out OK and that we’ll be able to come back home.”

Guzman added: “You’re just fourth grade kids but you guys are doing a big thing for us.”

On Jan. 10, according to organizers in the effort to bring the family back to Berkeley, Rodrigo and his parents, Reyna Diaz Mayida and Javier Ponce Guzman, were detained at the border in Houston when returning from a trip to Mexico. Immigration authorities discovered that their visas had expired, so the family was denied entrance to the U.S. The family was told they would have to wait five years before reapplying for visas.

“Rodrigo is having a terrible time adjusting to Mexico. He is stressed, vomits in the classroom and suffers from mosquito bites that cover his body,” organizers wrote in a prepared statement. “Rodrigo is sad and depressed about his uncertain future.”

Rodrigo has lived in Berkeley for seven years. According to a statement from Councilman Kriss Worthington, Rodrigo’s classmates “are very upset and confused that their good friend is being prevented from coming home and living a normal life because current U.S. policy lacks compassion and logic in its application to young families living in the United States.” Worthington introduced the resolution Tuesday night to the council.

Five of Rodrigo’s classmates have said they want to go to Washington, D.C., to testify before the Senate and Congress to ask for their classmate to be able to return to Berkeley. According to organizers, the students are studying the struggles of Martin Luther King Jr., Cesar Chavez and Rosa Parks “and believe today is their moment to battle for a cause they believe is part of our democracy.”

Organizers have formed the “Bring Rodrigo Home — Kids for Kids” campaign to bring together local, state and national immigration and civil rights groups “to bring attention to Rodrigo’s plight and put a ‘face’ to the issue.” According to Worthington’s report on the resolution, the campaign plans to send students and parents to Washington to testify.

“This campaign is empowering our children to become the next generation of powerful activists. They are deploying technology in creative and innovative ways we never dreamed was possible,” said Worthington in the report. Council members Jesse Arreguín, Max Anderson and Linda Maio also signed on to the report.

As of early Wednesday morning, 180 supporters had signed a petition in support of Rodrigo and his family.

Learn more at Follow the effort on Facebook

Jefferson kids fight to bring classmate back from Mexico [03.18.13]

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  • The_Sharkey

    Ok, I can post as “Guest” instead of “The_Sharkey” or just make up different names every time I post, if you’d prefer. You’re the boss.

  • guest

    some folks like to silence those they disagree with by any means necessary

  • Guest

    How is this at all relevant to my point?`

  • guest

    “the visa expiration date shown on your visa does
    not reflect how long you are authorized to stay within the U.S. Entry and the length of authorized stay within the U.S. are determined by the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officer at the port-of-entry each time you travel.”

    Come on, man. you’re smarter than this.

  • berkeley/lit/izen

    Ok, I don’t even really like The_Sharkey, but I gotta take issue with this. Why on earth should he limit his commenting?

    Personal comments like this are completely irrelevant to the important matters at hand.

  • Guest

    Actually, I agree with Sharkey on his/her general opinion about this article. However his/her incessant arguing has becoming annoying and discourages a variety of opinions because Sharkey tends to argue minutiae in order to debase that persons argument. While I support the vigorous debate of the many issues in this city, it seems as some commenters treat this as a court of law. There is no winning and losing here, rather it is more productive to attempt at convincing those who disagree with you.

  • berkeley/lit/izen

    Nope, not trolling.
    Every comment has been relevant and on topic. Point NOT taken.

  • Guest

    I never said Sharkey’s comments should be limited, however I think his/her comments should be less reactionary. Many of Sharkey’s comments limit any constructive discussion or debate of the issues at hand.

  • Guest

    “Trolling is an Internet slang term used to describe any Internet user behavior that is meant to intentionally anger or frustrate someone else. It is often associated with online discussions where users are subjected to offensive or superfluous posts and messages in order to provoke a response.” Sharkey may be on topic however many of his/her posts are designed to intentionally frustrate others. Next time look up the definition to trolling.

  • berkeley/lit/izen

    Sorry, disagree again. i have crossed swords with The_Sharkey on many issues, and except for my concern that he is interested in “unmasking” certain commenters (say it ain’t so!), I have found (him?) to be an encourager of debate, not a limiter. (which, incidentally, seems to be your intent…)

  • bob

    Sorry they are 43rd worst in spending… and pretty bad on a host of other measures.

  • /r/eader

    responding with arguments you can’t counter ≠ trolling

  • berkeley/lit/izen

    Sharkey, as far as I can tell, is not intentionally frustrating people. (unless, as I commented above… unmasking…)(but that isn’t happening in this thread.)
    His comments seem to be sincere. Just because i disagree with him, doesn’t make him a troll.

  • Guest

    Well, I guess we disagree on that one. I believe Sharkey is attempting to intentionally frustrate people. Many of his/her arguments seem to argue the fine points of an issue, and thus the arguments quickly deviate from broad issue at hand and become squabbling about barely relevant points. I guess we disagree on the value of Sharkey’s arguments.

  • guest

    But he can’t be trolling, because it’s never funny!

  • guest

    Just to clarify, do you think that The_Sharkey is only saying what he says to get a rise out of people? Are you implying that he does not really think what he is saying?

  • lulz

    discussing the finer points of an issue is trolling?
    better shut down the philosophy department

  • guest

    >Why have borders and laws at all then? Why should not every Mexican family get a visa to come here and do what Rodrigo’s family did. Let’s not discriminate.

    I agree! Let’s open those borders!

  • bgal4

    I believe that information was in the resolution the city adopted. Frances likely knows as well.

  • Guest

    I believe that Sharkey believes what he/she is saying, however he/she tries to “win” the argument by getting a rise out of people. I am not question Sharkey’s sencerity, rather his/her methods at getting the point across.

  • bgal4

    are you john holland? btw this is last time I respond to you.

  • guest

    Do you ever wonder how many anonymous names The_Sharkey can use to post support for himself?

  • Guest

    That is true, sometimes I wonder about commentators on Berkeleyside…

  • berkeley/lit/izen

    OMG. I just got it. YOU are trolling The_Sharkey, aren’t you?

  • Guest

    that sounds exactly like something The_Sharkey would say to throw us off his tail…

  • guest

    But there must be some level of insincerity if it is _just_ to get someone mad…

  • Guest

    Keep posting and you might become the biggest troll on Berkeleyside yourself. At first I thought your points were relevant, clearly the posts above say otherwise. So childish…

  • bgal4

    His parents, who are not married, came to the United States on visitors’
    visas, which they periodically renewed, often traveling to Tijuana to
    do so, according to friends who know the family. 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

    Frances first story on B-side

  • berkeley/lit/izen

    Whereas I thought you were merely a run-of-the-mill internet fascist, and I’m starting to think you may be a bit more cunning than I gave you credit for…

  • Mbfarrel

    Oh boy 135 comments, mostly free of content. Personal sniping going towards SFGate-dom. So happy to join in;

    “You’re all morons.” Have a nice day :)

  • angemon3690

    Oh yea, and adding pointless observations adds mounds of value to the discussion.

  • angemon3690

    You’re saying since they’re not using this as part of their argument, then their stay was not valid. That’s assumption #1. You’re also saying that they would use it as part of their argument period. That’s assumption #2. You’re also saying this would put them in a favorable light. To what people, opponents like you? People that say the law is the law and you can’t break or bend the laws? People that would say their visa was expired so this side fact is irrelevant? This does nothing to put them in a favorable light. That’s assumption #3.

    That’s quite a lot of assumptions.

  • angemon3690

    That’s also another assumption. People go off and start talking about things without doing research all the time.

  • angemon3690

    “btw this is last time I respond to you.”

    Oooooo, am I supposed to be wounded by that? Ouch, that hurt so much. Please, please don’t ignore me, I beg of you.

  • angemon3690

    Boy you keep doing this don’t you?

    My argument is that you don’t know why they failed to renew their visa. All you can do is speculation with no degree of confidence as to why they they didn’t renew it.

    “And you think that we should extend special favoritism to them and allow them to bypass normal immigration law? Really?”

    Yet again, do you ever stop?:

    I never advocated that. The only thing I’ve said is that the laws should be reexamined.

    Seriously, can you stop with the strawmans?

  • guest
  • Guest
  • angemon3690

    Incorrect use of that fallacy. I never claimed his claim is false, only that it’s not necessarily true.

  • AnthonySanchez

    Kudos to the kids for taking a stand for their friend and classmate.

    For those disparaging Rodrigo and his family, or otherwise insinuating they’r wrong, they’re fine, good riddance, they’re the reason are schools are bad, etc, I am sorry you feel that way and that you are part of a very, very small and lonely group in the City of Berkeley, if you’re not an out-of-towner.

    I am proud of our progressive City, which you’ll have to accept as supportive of Rodrigo.

  • guest

    Spot The Straw Man with Anthony Sanchez!

    >if you think people should follow the rules, you’re disparaging the family
    >if you point out that they broke the law, you’re disparaging the family
    >if you point out problems in California schools, you’re blaming the family
    >if you disagree with me, you’re small and lonely
    >if you disagree with me, you’re probably an out-of-towner
    >if you don’t agree with me, you’re not progressive

    Can you find more?

  • Some of the comments in this thread are getting out of hand. We’re closing the thread.