Commander: Help release Marine from Mexico

The American Legion is asking members to contact the White House and ask President Barack Obama to personally intervene on behalf of a Marine reservist now being held in a Mexican jail.

Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi, a Purple Heart recipient who served two tours in Afghanistan, crossed the Mexican border from San Ysidro, Calif., on March 31. He maintains that the crossing was accidental and the result of poor road signage. He immediately declared to Mexican border officials that he had three legally registered firearms – a rifle, shotgun and 45-caliber pistol and ammunition – in his truck. Although legal in California, the weapons are not legal in Mexico. If convicted, Tahmooressi could face 20 years in prison. The Marine has said that he has been tortured and physically abused while in captivity.

“By nearly everybody’s account, this was an accident,” American Legion National Commander Daniel M. Dellinger said. “The United States provided more than $300 million of foreign aid to Mexico in 2012 alone, and the government there is considered a close friend and ally of the United States. This combat veteran has been held long enough. I am calling upon Legionnaires, family members and friends to contact the White House and ask that President Obama insist on his immediate release.”

At least two dozen members of Congress have also called for Tahmooressi’s release. The issue has picked up renewed attention after the president defended the controversial release of Guantanamo Bay detainees in exchange for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl by saying America “leaves no soldier behind.”

Information about calling, emailing or writing letters to the White House can be found here.