The Guzman family two years ago
  • courtesy Emily Guzman
  • The Guzman family two years ago

If you followed the dramatic story of Pedro and Emily Guzman in recent days, you know that Pedro was arrested and sent to a Georgia prison 20 months ago by federal immigration officials … and despite Emily’s fierce efforts on his behalf, he seemed on the verge of being deported when his case was finally heard by an immigration judge Monday …

… but then the judge unexpectedly ruled in his favor, and after another day of uncertainty about whether the feds would appeal, they dropped the case! Pedro was free!*

So now, the Guzmans are back in Durham with their son Logan, who’s 4. They’re in bliss, they’re in shock, and they’re determined to share with people the very hard-won lessons they’ve learned about immigration law and the deportation industry it’s spawned. I had the privilege of talking with them yesterday. I’ll have a story in the Indy next week. Suffice it to say here that for two people who’ve been through hell, they are remarkably together and strong.

The point of this post is to alert y’all that by nice happenstance, a documentary short about the Guzman case is scheduled to be shown this evening — as part of a free program —at the Nasher Museum of Art in Durham.

Until Monday, the film didn’t have an ending. Now, it does.

The new ending is that Pedro and Emily (and Logan too, I think?) and Emily’s mom and many friends will be at the Nasher tonight, starting at 6 or so, to watch it with the audience.

I can tell you, if you want to end your week on a high note with hope for better things to come, drop by the Nasher and say hello to these good folks.

Pedro and Emily Guzman would love to see you.


The film, Us… Then… United States, by Paul Deblinger, is one of nine being presented at the Nasher by graduating students at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke. The program, called CDS Porch, begins with a 6 p.m. reception. The films begin at 7.

Deblinger also made the video interview with Emily that she that she shared last week and which was included in our first post here.

More about the film and its maker from CDS:

What happens when a political refugee, who is properly documented, is hauled off by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement because of an administrative error by the government? His American-born wife and child are stunned by the sudden loss and do everything they can to reunite their family. This story of one family’s nightmare illustrates the fractured nature of U.S. immigration policy. Pedro Guzman immigrated to the United States with his family when he was eight years old, fleeing the brutality of a right-wing government backed by the U.S. Under the Nicaraguan and Central American Relief Act (NACARA), he is entitled to apply for permanent residence in the United States.

Paul Deblinger was born in Washington, D.C., and graduated from the University of Maryland with a B.A. in English. He received a Creative Writing Fellowship at Hollins College and graduated with an M.A. in English and creative writing, and he received a teaching fellowship at Bowling Green State University, where he graduated with an M.F.A. in creative writing. He has published poems, short stories, and essays in a variety of publications and is the author of Culpepper’s Guide to Minneapolis and St. Paul. He has worked in marketing and communications in Thoroughbred racing and health and veterinary medicine, developing audio, video, and print material. Deblinger lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, with his dog, Sierra, and performs improv and stand-up comedy at DSI Comedy Theater in Carrboro. He also paints encaustic pictures.

* Remember, Pedro’s mother entered the U.S. legally from Guatemala when Pedro was 8; he’s 32 now. (Yesterday was his birthday … and the Guzman’s seventh anniversary.) But two years ago, his mother lost her visa and because she did, Pedro was suddenly considered to be in the country illegally — and the legal horror show that followed should shock the conscience of even the most diehard nativists.