The White House will not say whether the U.S. Marine imprisoned in Mexico was even mentioned in a call Thursday between President Barack Obama and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto.
Information released to the media about the call indicates only that the two leaders talked about the situation at the U.S.-Mexico border, but mentioned nothing about Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi or any other topic.
“I don’t have anything further for you beyond the call readout,” White House National Security Council spokesman Patrick Ventrell told TheBlaze.
The White House has not yet issued a response to a petition on whitehouse.gov asking the Obama administration to demand the release of Tahmooressi, who is nearing three months behind Mexican bars after he says he mistakenly crossed the border from California with three legally owned guns in his truck.
The petition has more than 124,000 signatures, surpassing the 100,000 needed to trigger an official response, under the rules of the site.
Based on what the White House publicly released about Obama and Nieto’s conversation, the two presidents talked at length about the more than 47,000 unaccompanied minors from Central America who have crossed the border through Mexico into the United States since October, according to Department of Homeland Security statistics.
“The president noted that the United States and Mexico can collaborate on a number of areas related to the issue, including by working together to return the children safely to their families and to build Central American capacity to receive returned individuals,” the White House statement said.
“The President also noted that these unaccompanied children are vulnerable to crime and abuse, and welcomed Mexico’s efforts to help target the criminals that lure families to send children on the dangerous journey and to alert potential migrants to the perils of the journey and the likelihood that they will be returned to Central America,” the statement said. “The President also reiterated that arriving migrants will not qualify for legalization under proposed immigration reform legislation or deferred action for childhood arrivals (DACA).”
The United Nations has estimated that almost 60 percent of the unaccompanied children were fleeing countries besieged by drugs and violence and could qualify for refugee status.
The White House earlier this month provided only a general comment about responding to the petition.
“Each petition that crosses the threshold of 100,000 signatures will be reviewed by the appropriate policy staff and receive a response,” spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said on June 3. “Response times vary. We’re not in a position to comment on the substance of a response before it has been issued.”
Tahmooressi says he mistakenly crossed the California border into Mexico by being in the wrong lane when he was driving with all of his possessions, including three registered firearms. He has said he informed Mexican authorities up front about the guns inside his truck, but was taken into custody.
The petition posted on the “We the People” section of whitehouse.gov calls for the Obama administration to “Demand Release of U.S.M.C. Sgt. Tahmooressi Suffering with PTSD from Mexico Imprisonment.”
“Sgt. Tahmooressi, living in a truck having just arrived San Diego to seek VA assistance with PTSD supported by a Purple Heart veteran Marine; a 2 tour OEF meritoriously promoted Sergeant gets lost at the border and with one wrong turns ends up in the Mexico customs lane with no way to turn back. His truck piled high with possessions as he searched housing including his U.S. legally purchased firearms/ ammunition,” the petition states. “Not intending to drive into Mexico he explains he is lost. Arrested since 4/1/2014, since incarceration his life has been threatened; sustained a neck wound requiring hospitalization and chained in a 4-point restraint, 26+days. The affect of this unjust incarceration on a decorated combat Marine is despairing. Tahmooressi supported by U.S. Consular Services yet low hope.”
Secretary of State John Kerry told CNN last month that the U.S. was “working on determining whether or not certain evidence that has been presented is meeting the standard that’s necessary to be able to hold that young Marine.”
Earlier this month, Tahmooressi was interviewed on the Glenn Beck radio program, where he said he faced threats from other inmates and was “fearful to the point where my heart was pounding and I couldn’t have gotten a single word out if I had to yell for help.”
“I was put in a small cell that was meant for six people,” Tahmooressi told Beck. “There was about 15 to 20 people in there. … There were murderers in there, and kidnappers and drug dealers and all these people. And there I was, someone who’s not a criminal, never done a crime before, never been to prison. I was nervous.”