An 18-Year-Old U.S. Citizen Has Been in Immigration Custody for Nearly a Month

It’s all too common for U.S. citizens to be detained by ICE. Photo: Scott Eisen/Getty Images

In late June, 18-year-old Francisco Erwin Galicia was driving from one small Texas town to another when he was stopped at a Customs and Border Protection checkpoint.

Galicia is a U.S. citizen. His 17-year-old brother, Marlon, who was in the car with him, is not. Both were detained and Marlon was soon deported to Mexico. But Francisco, the Dallas Morning News reports, remains in custody more than three weeks later.

“I presented them with his original birth certificate and other documents and they ignored them. So now I’ve faxed over all the documents to the ICE agent handling the case,” attorney Claudia Galan told the paper. “He’s going on a full month of being wrongfully detained. He’s a U.S. citizen and he needs to be released now.”

Galan told the Washington Post that Galicia was carrying several types of identification when he was stopped at the checkpoint, “including a wallet-sized Texas birth certificate, a Texas ID card and Social Security card.” Galan told the paper that “when Border Patrol checked his documents, they just didn’t believe they were real. They kept telling him they were fake.”

The Post continues:

The reason it appears to have taken CBP and ICE so long to determine Galicia’s citizenship is because his mother, who is not a citizen, took out a U.S. tourist visa in his name while he was still a minor, falsely saying he was born in Mexico, Galan said. His mother, Sanjuana, told The Post that CBP discovered the visa after fingerprinting her son. The conflicting documents only fueled the agency’s suspicion that Galicia’s U.S. documents were fake, Galan said.

The arrest of U.S. citizens by ICE is not as rare as it should be. Last year, a Los Angeles Times investigation found that 1,488 U.S. citizens were released from ICE custody since 2012. The bulk of those came under President Obama in 2012 and 2013.

Glacia’s story is being told just as the Trump administration is moving to make it easier to deport immigrants and attempting high-profile ICE raids across the nation. And it’s attracting the attention of some high-profile politicians.

On Monday night, Congresswoman Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez tweeted “CBP is detaining *American citizens.* How would you feel trapped in a border camp, where guards wear face masks because the human odor is so strong? When we allow the rights of some to be violated, the rights of all are not far behind.”

Former HUD secretary and presidential candidate Julián Castro tweeted Tuesday, “As Trump stirs fear of immigrants to advance his racist agenda, the persecution of citizens of color is a dark, calculated outcome. Francisco Galicia was born in Dallas. His detention isn’t an anomaly — it’s a call to action. We must change our course.”

A U.S. Citizen Has Been in Immigration Custody for Weeks