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Release Date: 
November 14, 2013

On October 30, agents from the U.S. Border Patrol in San Diego encountered a 37-year-old man in a canyon near Imperial Beach, Calif. Little did the agents know this would be the beginning of an unusual human story based on good investigative work and genuine compassion.

Border Patrol agents were able to quickly determine that the man had crossed the border illegally with several other persons. They were all placed under arrest and transported to the Imperial Beach Border Patrol Station for processing. There, the man had no identification and claimed to be a Mexican citizen; but soon changed his story which took this to a totally different and unusual direction.

The man claimed his name is David Amaya. He also asserted that he was a United States citizen who was taken to Mexico by his father 35 years ago when he was just two-years-old.

Processing agents were perplexed but intrigued and sought more information from David to collaborate his claim. David spoke no English but informed agents that he had been living with his paternal grandmother in San Luis, Potosi, Mexico. David provided agents with what little information he had about his birth mother and father, gave them his date of birth, and told them the name of the Chicago hospital where he was born. David did not know his mother’s address or phone number, but assumed she was still in Illinois, and had planned to find her through social media. Sadly, David also explained that he had been robbed while traveling north through Mexico, and that the bandits had taken his cell phone and money; an unfortunately all too common of an occurrence along the dangerous Mexico/U.S. international border.

Border Patrol agents diligently set out to verify his unusual story and began to research the information David provided them. Agents contacted the Cook County Vital Records Office which was able to verify that David Amaya had a valid birth certificate on file. The following day agents spoke with a Vital Supervisor telling her David’s story at which time a copy of the birth certificate was faxed to the station. The Imperial Beach Station’s Intelligence Support Team then focused their efforts and resources on tracking down David’s birth mother. Researching multiple sources, they were able to uncover a valid address and phone number for his mother.

Agents contacted David’s mother and delicately informed her about the person they encountered and his claim to be her long lost son. Ecstatically and tearfully, the woman was able to confirm his story.

Agents placed David and his mother on the phone and through translation provided them their very first conversation in almost thirty-five years, an emotional moment for the Amaya family and agents alike. David and his mother agreed to a reunion at her home in Wisconsin.

The Imperial Beach Station Patrol Agent in Charge Gregory Bovino said, “Too often our Border Patrol agents deal with the darker aspects of border security – violence, drugs, and smuggling; but David’s case was a welcome respite for all involved. It was truly inspirational to witness David talking with his mother for the first time.”

Last modified: 
February 3, 2021