Sunday, July 21, 2024

U.S. Citizen released from ICE custody after 23 days

Francisco Erwin Galicia, a Dallas-born U.S. citizen, spent 23 days in the custody of U.S. Customs and Border Protection in conditions that made him so desperate he almost opted to self-deport.

“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,” he said.

Galicia says he lost 26 pounds during that time in a South Texas immigrant detention center because officers didn’t provide him with enough food. He and 60 other men were crammed into an overcrowded holding area where they slept on the floor and were given only aluminum-foil blankets, he said.

Galicia spoke to The Dallas Morning News on Wednesday, one day after he was released by federal officials who had earlier refused to acknowledge his citizenship when presented with his birth certificate. While CBP and ICE officials did not respond to Galicia’s claims of poor conditions, the agencies did issue a joint statement Wednesday evening addressing their decision to detain him.

“Generally, situations including conflicting reports from the individual and multiple birth certificates can, and should, take more time to verify,” the statement read. “While we continue to research the facts of the situation, this individual has been released from ICE custody.” Galicia’s ordeal began on June 27 when he and his younger brother Marlon Galicia and three friends set out for Ranger College in North Texas from Edinburg where the Galicia family lives.

They were heading to a soccer scouting event where the brothers, who both play defense for the Johnny Economedes High School soccer team, were hoping to land scholarships. But the boys had to pass through a CBP checkpoint in Falfurrias, where agents asked the group to pull over and asked the passengers their statuses. Marlon Galicia and another passenger lacked legal status, but Francisco Galicia told Border Patrol agents that he was a citizen and presented them with a Texas ID, Social Security card and a wallet-sized birth certificate – agents doubted the validity of his documents right away, Galicia said.