A bipartisan group of 71 U.S. lawmakers sent a letter requesting the immediate return of a United States Marine who remains jailed in Mexico after more than three months.
U.S. Marine Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi has been jailed in Mexico for more than three months. (Photo courtesy of the Pentagon)
Marine Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi is again set to face a federal judge in Tijuana on charges that he crossed into the country with firearms in his car in violation of Mexico law.
Tahmooressi says he accidentally crossed a San Ysidro, California, border checkpoint on March 31, and could not turn around before stopping at the Mexican government checkpoint. He had traveled to San Diego from his hometown in Florida seeking treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder, which he was diagnosed with 10 days prior to his arrest.
"We appreciate your careful consideration of the Andrew Tahmooressi case," the letter signed by 71 congressional representatives to Tijuana Judge Víctor Octavio Luna Escobedo states. "As Members of the U.S. House of Representatives, we stand behind Andrew and believe the specific circumstances of this case require Andrew to be returned to the U.S. immediately."
Jill Tahmooressi, Andrew's mother, told TheBlaze Wednesday she was praying that "God will grant us a miracle today." She was in Tijuana for her son's hearing, and said the letter sent by Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), who represents San Diego, has given her family hope.
The letter states the lawmakers' belief that Tahmooressi accidentally crossed into Mexico as he claimed. TheBlaze was the first to report the 911 call made by the Marine on the night of his arrest when he called and said he was stuck in the crossing lane to Mexico.
"One of the most compelling pieces of evidence is a 911 call Andrew made at the border checkpoint, where he stated that he was unaware of his location," the letter says. "It’s also important to take into account that Andrew was new to the San Diego area, without permanent housing, and had many of his possessions in his car. Like many of those new to the area, he was unfamiliar with the often confusing roads along the border and was unable to turn around before entering Mexico."
Tahmooressi said the San Ysidro crossing point did not have a clear turn-around sign back to the United States. His mother Jill said the sign has been fixed.
The hearing was expected to get underway late morning Wednesday, Jill Tahmooressi said. She said she was told by her son's lawyer not to expect his immediate release.
"I'm still hoping and praying for a miracle," said Jill Tahmooressi, holding back her tears. "It was a wrong turn that he's been put in this situation and as much as we're staying hopeful, we also have to be realistic. However, God is mighty and let's hope there is a direct line to this judge's heart."
She said she has not spoken to her son in several days, but will see him in court and will be speaking with him after the hearing. She told TheBlaze her son is "so grateful for the support of the legislative branch and American's who have supported their efforts."
Jill Tahmooressi said she received a letter Monday from U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Anthony Wayne, saying "he was monitoring the situation and that the local consulate has been supporting Andrew."
She also said Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi may attend the hearing in Tijuana as an observer.
This May 3, 2014, photo shows Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi being held at Tijuana's La Mesa Penitentiary. (ALEJANDRO TAMAYO/AP Photo)
Tahmooressi previously appeared in court April 28 in a hearing that was cut short; the judge learned that Tahmooressi had his Mexican attorney fired the night before after Tahmooressi said he had been advised to commit perjury by acting as if he had not visited Mexico in the past.
Follow Sara A. Carter (@SaraCarterDC) on Twitter