California fixes highway, so why is Marine still jailed?

By Gina Loudon

U.S. Marine Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi
U.S. Marine Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi

Officials in California have confirmed they are making changes to lanes and signage at the San Ysidro port of entry through which travelers can go into Mexico, so one lawmaker is calling for the release of a U.S. Marine who reported taking a wrong turn at that location in March, and ending up behind bars in Mexico.

“The corrective action by a major California state agency to correct a deficiency that has caused an untold number of drivers to enter Mexico mistakenly shores up that Sgt. [Andrew] Tahmooressi claim to have made that mistake due to unclear marking,” Assemblyman Tim Donnelly told WND.

“His mistake was just that, a mistake, not a crime, and he should be released immediately so he can get the treatment he needs for PTSD.”

WND has reported before on the case involving Tahmooressi. He was traveling with his personal belongings and ended up in a lane that took him into Mexico.

The issue is that he carried with him his personal weapons, and while they are legal in the United States, they are not in Mexico. He was summarily arrested and jailed when he informed Mexico officials at the entry point that he had made a mistake and asked to return to the U.S.

There have been multiple court hearings on his case, but none has yet reached a resolution that would allow him to return to the U.S. for treatment of PTSD, officials said.

Jill Tahmooressi, Andrew’s mother, told WND that she’s “delighted that there is additional protection at the border so that other Americans don’t end up hurt or jailed over the poor signage.”

“That’s what Andrew and I have always said … we have to find the silver lining in all of this. God will use this for good. We are not going to question God’s timing. Now there is that silver lining that we have been looking for. We are so thankful that other Americans will now have proper signage and won’t end up in the terrible predicament that Andrew is in just for making a wrong turn on a road where the signage is confusing and haphazard.”

She continued, “It also validates that there was an extreme lack of warning for making sure motorists know that they will be exiting the country, and entering Mexico. I am glad that it is now corrected.”

Regarding her son’s case, she said she is waiting for a judge in Mexico to release a motion to prosecutors.

“That has not yet happened to my knowledge. He is methodically going through to make sure Andrew’s rights are being protected. To my knowledge, he has not released the motion to the prosecutors yet.”

She said her son is having hard times behind bars.

“He is not going to his Friday recreational time out of his cell. He used to get an hour to play basketball alone outside once per week. He has lost all interest in that. He is shutting down. He is not seeing pastoral services any more. He informed me that he asked the pastor not to come for his weekly visit,” she said.

“He is all alone, all the time. He was trying to make the best of his time so he used his wash bucket to do workouts. Somehow he ended up hurting his arm and is pretty sure it is broken. Finally this week they brought in some kind of portable X-ray machine, and they said they couldn’t find a fracture. But his arm is really weakened,” she said.

She is comforted that he still has his Bible.

“And he has letters, thank goodness!” Jill exclaimed. “He reads me the names of those who write letters to him one by one, every day!”

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Donnelly said confirmation that the state was making changes came just recently, months after he approached the state agency and pointed out the problem.

He had sent a letter to the California Transportation Commission, CalTrans, early in the summer. He asked for a fix to the road situation “so that no other American is caught off-guard” like Tahmooressi.

An initial response was “dismissive,” he said.

Then in August he wrote again, and just last week, received a response dated Oct. 2.

The letter from Malcolm Dougherty, director of the state agency, said, “To ensure the public’s understanding of the ramp, CalTrans has replaced signs approaching the ramp that inform motorists the ramp leads to Mexico and there is no return to the United States of America.

“CalTrans is monitoring these signs regularly to ensure that they are clearly visible.

“Additionally CalTrans is in the process of designing appropriate pavement markings for the approaches to this ramp to reinforce the message on the signs. In concept, two of the turn lanes, including the westbound left run lane allegedly used by Marine Sgt. Tahmooressi, would indicate ‘MEX ONLY.'”

Donnelly believes that the letter is a strong “admission that something was wrong.”

He said he hopes it can be recognized in the Marine’s case.

“I think the fact they acted serves as powerful evidence that something was very wrong, and it could mitigate Andrew’s case,” he said.

Hear a Fox News segment on the case:

[jwplayer wVd0DGNU]

Talk-show host and retired Marine Montel Williams recently joined Jill Tahmooressi in appearing before Congress.

He asked the White House to “make the call” and reach out for the sergeant’s freedom.

See the video:

[jwplayer c2L0tHhN]

He was in tears as he testified, “at least call this woman (Mrs. Tahmooressi)!”

Williams appealed to Barack Obama as a father, sharing how Jill Tahmooressi has sent a prayer to the Williams family every day since she learned of his daughter’s cancer.

“It’s time for you to act,” he said.

To Congress, Jill Tahmooressi explained her son had called her to say, “I made a wrong turn. I am at the Mexican border.” The next day she got the message, “I have been arrested, please secure me an attorney.”

The sergeant served multiple combat tours and was meritoriously promoted.

He fought in an infantry battalion as a section lead and a .50 caliber gunner.

His mother said, “He volunteered and was willing to lose his life for freedom, liberty, and the elimination of oppression. He fought not for one political party. He fought for the world at large, including Mexico, who does not send their military into combat.”

He was in San Diego to test for PTSD because his friend, who has a Purple Heart and suffered from PTSD, said San Diego has the best treatment in the country.

Driving at night, however, he found himself in a lane that led to Mexico.

WND reported earlier on the sergeant’s time in Mexico and in another interview then, Jill Tahmooressi said she’s grateful for the help her family has received.

[jwplayer GkqitMTG]

“It’s amazing, coast to coast, I feel like my family has grown,” she said then. “… I now have this universe of a family. I know Andrew feels it, because I read to him the prayers and support messages. … He is so appreciative. That has been the most amazing thing, how America can rally together for this Marine.”

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