In a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Department of Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and 68 other House lawmakers demanded the Obama administration to "use [all] diplomatic means" release U.S. citizen Jon Hammar from Mexican custody.
"Though the State Department has provided updates on Jon’s well-being, it has not provided details on what our government is doing to get him released from prison. We urge the State Department to continue to press the Mexican authorities for a speedy resolution to this extremely unfortunate situation," the letter states.
Hammar's family, who are residents in Ros-Lehtinen's south Florida congressional district, have reportedly recieved extortion threats by Mexican nationals threatening to kill the Marine Corps veteran while he was in custody, according to the letter.
House Armed Services Committee member and former Marine Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) has called for an immediate travel ban on Mexico until Hammar is returned to the United States.
“I’m calling on all Americans to boycott travel to Mexico until U.S. citizen and Marine combat veteran Jon Hammar is released,” Hunter said in a statement issued Thursday, noting he was considering travelling to the country to help negotiate his release.
“We need to know that the State Department is doing everything it can to secure his release," Hunter said, adding he has not seen "the aggressiveness that’s necessary" on the part of U.S. diplomats to secure Hammar's freedom.
Hammar has been incarcerated in a detention facility in the northeast Mexican state of Tamaulipas since his arrest by Mexican authorities in August for attempting to bring a firearm across the U.S.-Mexico border.
The former Marine, who sufferers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder due to multiple combat tours in Southwest Asia, was heading into Mexico as part of a surfing trip with a fellow Marine Corps veteran when he was arrested.
However, according to Ros-Lehtinen's letter, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents advised Hammar that he would be allowed to take the weapon into Mexico, as long has he registered the firearm with local authorities.
"There can be no disputing [U.S. Customs and Border Patrol's] role in the Hammar incident," Ros-Lehtinen wrote on Thursday.
"We would like to know how this could have happened, and why the CBP agents at the border gave Jon what was obviously wrong information," she added.
Sen. Bill Nelson (R-Fla.) told Fox News on Wednesday that he has been in contact with Mexican Ambassador Arturo Casamitjana about the Hammar incident, noting that "he is working very hard to make sure that this happens."
"This guy was not a threat against the state even though it's against their law to bring a gun in to Mexico," Nelson said. "He obviously wasn't a threat. And therefore there should been judicial discretion imposed in this long ago."