An American Teen Arrested by Border Patrol Has Been in Custody for More Than Three Weeks

A U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officer looks on during a raid in Escondido, CA.
Photo: Gregory Bull/AP

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the agency that detains and deports immigrants, routinely fucks up. These fuck ups often include, somehow, detaining American citizens, which is all the more reason to abolish the force, if not for just its alleged human rights abuses against immigrants.

According to the Dallas Morning News, the agency has wrongly held an 18 year old American-born citizen for nearly a month after he and his brother encountered a border patrol checkpoint while traveling in Texas.

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The teenager, Francisco Erwin Galicia, was traveling from Edinburg, TX, to a soccer scouting event in Ranger, TX, with his 17 year old brother Marlon Galicia on June 27. The boys’ mother said they came upon a CBP checkpoint in Falfurrias, TX, about an hour north of Edinburg, around 8 p.m. that night. They were asked to provide “travel documents,” the Morning News reported.

Marlon, who was born in Mexico and doesn’t have legal status, only had his school ID to present to officials. Francisco, however, had his Texas state ID, which can only be obtained with a Social Security Number. CBP detained both of them, and ICE deported Marlon. From the Morning News:

“We were confident that we’d be able to pass. We were going to do something good for our futures,” [Marlon] said. “I didn’t imagine this could happen and now I’m so sad that I’m not with my family,” Marlon said by phone from Reynosa, Mexico, where he is staying with his grandmother.

After two days in detention, Marlon signed a voluntary deportation form.

“I signed because I wanted to talk with my mom. Now, we just have to wait and see and hope that they release my brother,” Marlon said.

With Marlon deported, the boys’ family fears Francisco is next. Their mother, Sanjuana Galicia, told the paper Francisco told her he was detained because he didn’t have his U.S. passport, despite having a state ID.

His lawyer, Claudia Galan, told the News she met with CBP last week with the teen’s birth certificate, which lists him being born at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas on Dec. 24, 2000. However, CBP wouldn’t release him. He was transferred to ICE on Saturday. Galan plans on attempting to present the agency with the same documents.

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“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,” Galan told the publication. “He’s going on a full month of being wrongfully detained. He’s a U.S. citizen and he needs to be released now.”

ICE detaining American citizens is unfortunately not a rare occurrence. According to a Los Angeles Times investigation from last year, ICE has detained more than 1,400 American citizens since 2012—hundreds of people each year.

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According to the Morning News, the ICE detainee locator system shows Francisco is detained at the South Texas Detention Facility in Pearsall, TX, and claims he was born in Mexico. ICE and CBP didn’t return the publication’s requests for comment; Splinter also reached out and will update if we hear back.

“I need my son back,” Galicia told the paper. “I just want to prove to them that he is a citizen. He’s not a criminal or anything bad. He’s a good kid.”

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Correction: The headline of this post originally stated that Francisco has been in ICE custody for three weeks. He was transferred to ICE on Saturday but has been detained by immigration officials for more than three weeks.

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About the author

Samantha Grasso

Splinter Staff Writer, Texan