So, if Mexico cannot change American legal practice, isn't the same true regarding the case of Andrew Tahmooressi? It is easy to overlook the fact that although the two countries share a border, Mexico and the U.S. are like distant neighbors, whose language, laws and customs have evolved independently. Each views the other as violent and corrupt. Just as Americans are horrified by Mexican cartel violence, where the victims are almost always targeted, so are Mexicans horrified by American mass killings, which happen randomly in such supposedly safe locations as schools, malls, movie theaters and fast-food restaurants. In further contrast, Mexico has no death penalty and guns are illegal. In the U.S. it is just the opposite. In the U.S. there is trial-by-jury. In Mexico, it is the judge who will conduct investigations, hear evidence and decide Tahmooressi's case.
VIDEO : Duncan Hunter speaks about Andrew Tahmooressi
In light of these touchy sovereignty issues, now would be a good time, long overdue, for the U.S. media to ratchet-down the rhetoric and let Mexico's legal due process take effect without further interference. Congressman Duncan Hunter, himself a former marine, and a strong supporter of the armed services, has called for Tahmooressi's premature release. It is hoped that he will look with the same enthusiasm to assist the thousands of U.S. vets who have been deported to Mexico after serving in the U.S. armed services. These are truly the forgotten ones 'Los Olvidados.' They cannot legally work in Mexico. They are stateless citizens. They have fallen through the cracks onto the streets of Mexico. Some do not speak Spanish, and do not possess valid work ID in Mexico. Some of them also suffer from PTSD, and are not afforded the benefit of treatment for conditions brought on by their tours of duty. All need to be able to have access to legal help in having their individual cases heard. It is a hellishly difficult problem that is far easier kept swept under the rug, but which cannot be ignored, and must eventually be solved at a bi-national level.
In contradistinction to the prevailing cacophony decrying Mexican injustice, even though Tahmooressi has not yet come to trial, commenters on the internet are brimming with such extreme ideas as sending a swat team to break him out -- or even invading Mexico. Or, it is claimed that since the U.S. doesn't enforce its immigration laws and sets-free tens of thousands of criminals of all nationalities awaiting deportation back onto America's streets every year Mexico should likewise cease to enforce its laws in the spirit of lax reciprocity. Then, on the other side of the fringe, there is this comment:
"Thank you Mexico for making Americans safe and saving Andrew's life -- when he tried to kill himself, for not killing him when he tried to escape, and for especially preventing yet another massacre on US Soil "
Is this far fetched? We remember U.S. Army psychiatrist Major Nidal Hassan fatally shot 13 people and wounded more than 30 others in a massacre at Fort Hood army base in 2009.
We also remember the mass shooting that killed 12 people at the Washington D.C. Navy Yard in September of last year, perpetrated by a disaffected, but honorably-discharged U.S. Navy vet.
Are we suggesting that Tahmooressi was about to go postal? Certainly not! But Tahmooressi was a walking time-bomb: a disoriented, homeless vet suffering, by his own admission, from PTSD mental disorder driving around irresponsibly -- from Florida to California -- with a small arsenal of guns and ammo in the bed of his pickup truck: a potential catastrophe waiting to happen to himself or to others.
Seen in this light, perhaps Mexico did Andrew a favor by getting him off the streets. Mexico may also have saved lives by interdicting guns and ammo that may have ended up on the streets of Tijuana or in the hands of the cartels or been stolen out of his truck, which had been left unattended in public parking lots and could have ended up anywhere.
In the time remaining between now and the hearing on June 4, 2014, It can only be hoped that at the end of the day, the judge's decision will be based on the evidence, and that Andrew Tahmooressi's story does not get lost in the larger political dialogue between the two countries regarding sovereignty, legal systems, and their respective roles in responding to the $20 billion annual drug sale profits and the war on drugs that keeps them both in constant turmoil.
Meanwhile, media pressure and premature calls for Tahmooressi's release, or for border blockades, are taking up all the oxygen. The man broke Mexican gun laws and his guilt or innocence will be determined in the Mexican courtroom, not in the U.S. newsroom. Although we can all thank Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi for his military service, and keep him in our prayers, we must nevertheless wait for the trier-of-fact to hear and weigh the evidence. Of relevance are questions concerning his alleged PTSD, his ability to read road signs, his vision, his movements in Tijuana earlier that day while checked-in at the Hotel Nelson, and his intended purpose for re-entering Mexico. Evidence regarding road signage at the border and camera evidence will certainly be introduced.
However, Tahmooressi's unfamiliarity with the border area or ignorance of the Mexican law is irrelevant to his defense. And so is his veterans' military status. The only facts the Mexican judge will be interested in are those which determine if his entrance into Mexico was deliberate or accidental.