Rodrigo was a happy nine-year-old fourth grader at Jefferson Elementary School in Berkeley, where he lived since he was two years old. On January 10, 2013, Rodrigo and his parents, Reyna Diaz Mayida and Javier Ponce Guzman, returning from a trip to Mexico, were detained at the border in Houston, Texas. The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) authorities discovered that the father’s visa as well as the visas of Rodrigo and his mother had expired, so the entire family was denied entrance to the U.S. The family was told that they could not re-apply for a visa for five years.
At the instigation of Rodrigo’s classmates and their parents, the Berkeley Unified School District unanimously passed a resolution on March 13, 2013, to support the return of Rodrigo and his family to Berkeley. On Tuesday March 19 at 7:00 pm at 2134 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, the Berkeley City Council will vote on their resolution Bring Rodrigo Home – Kids For Kids to support Rodrigo’s family’s return. This resolution urges President Barack Obama, Congresswoman Barbara Lee, and Senator Dianne Feinstein to write special legislation to grant assistance to the family.
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. Rodrigo is sad and depressed about his uncertain future.
In Berkeley, Rodrigo's classmates are determined to bring him home. Five of them want to go to Washington D.C. to testify in front of the Senate and Congress to ask for their classmate’s right to return to Berkeley. They are studying the struggles of Martin Luther King, Cesar Chavez and Rosa Parks for justice and believe today is their moment to battle for a cause they believe is part of our democracy.
Kyle Kuwahara, a classmate of Rodrigo’ wants to tell President Barack Obama: “This is our time to stand up like Cesar Chavez, Yuri Kochiyama and Dolores Huerta to fight for Rodrigo's rights. We have to fight for Rodrigo's rights because he is not able to do it himself!”
The Bring Rodrigo Home-Kids for Kids” campaign will include a website and social media outreach with a petition asking for Rodrigo’s return. Rodrigo’s classmates, their parents, and Berkeley community groups are recruiting national youth, social justice, and ethnic and immigration organizations to help deliver thousands of petitions to our politicians.