Texas-born U.S. citizen Francisco Erwin Galicia, 18, was recently released from ICE custody, and shared his experience of the brutal conditions he endured in an immigrant detention camp.
Following an initial report by the Dallas Morning News about Galicia’s detainment despite his status as a native-born citizen, he was released. However, Galicia told the News that in the 23 days he spent as a detainee in Falfurrias, Texas, he was never once given a shower, and got so little food that he reportedly lost 26 pounds in less than a month. He even considered self-deporting to Mexico despite his citizenship status.
“It was inhumane how they treated us. It got to the point where I was ready to sign a deportation paper just to not be suffering there anymore. I just needed to get out of there,” Galicia said. “It’s one thing to see these conditions on TV and in the news. It’s another to go through them.”
Galicia and his brother, Marlon, were on their way to Ranger College for a soccer scouting opportunity when they were detained at a U.S. Border Patrol checkpoint. Francisco was detained despite showing his Texas driver’s license (which requires proof of lawful residency and/or citizenship and a Social Security number) as well as a wallet-sized birth certificate and his Social Security card. Marlon, who lacked legal status, opted to be deported to Mexico so he could be able to call his mother and tell her about their whereabouts.
The attorney representing Galicia — who was born in Dallas’ Parkland Memorial Hospital — told the News she had sent over Galicia’s original birth certificate and other documentation proving his status as a citizen, but that Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials ignored them. She added that the likely reason her client was kept for so long was due to a visitor’s visa that showed up when his fingerprints were ran through the system. Galicia’s mother said she felt the only way she could safely travel across the border with her son was with the visa.
For its part, CBP stated that Galicia could have been kept even longer, saying his citizenship papers and the visitor’s visa would normally “take more time to verify.”
“While we continue to research the facts of the situation, this individual has been released from ICE custody,” the CBP statement read. “Both CBP and ICE are committed to the fair treatment of migrants in our custody and continue to take appropriate steps to verify all facts of this situation.”
Tom Cahill is a contributor for Grit Post who covers political and economic news. He lives in Bend, Oregon. Send him an email at tom DOT v DOT cahill AT gmail DOT com.