U.S. citizen held by ICE and CBP for 3 weeks is released
DALLAS — Francisco Erwin Galicia, the Dallas-born U.S. citizen who spent three weeks in U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody, was released Tuesday afternoon.
Galicia's case garnered national attention. The Dallas Morning News first reported Monday that the 18year-old had been held in CBP and ICE custody since June 27.
Sanjuana Galicia, Francisco's mother, said Tuesday an ICE official called her around 2 p.m. and told her Francisco's documents and citizenship were found to be valid and that he had been freed.
"The first thing he said to me was, 'Mommy, they let me go. I'm free,'" Sanjuana said by phone.
Galicia's detention appears to have been a bureaucratic mix-up related to the fact that he had a U.S. birth certificate and also, years earlier, a Mexican visitor's visa to travel to the U.S. from Mexico.
Neither ICE nor CBP has responded to repeated requests for comment.
Francisco was born in Dallas in December 2000 at Parkland Memorial Hospital, according to a copy of his birth certificate provided to the Morning News by his attorney, Claudia Galan.
When Francisco was about a year old, his mother moved back to Mexico, pregnant with his younger brother, Marlon Galindo, who was born there.
Sanjuana said she then decided that she needed to escape the violence around her in Reynosa, a border city that Mexican drug cartels fight over to control drug smuggling routes into the U.S.
But she feared she might not be able to travel legally across the border with her sons.
The problem was that she wasn't listed as Francisco's mother on his birth certificate because she was using a fake ID when she was living and working in Dallas. Parkland hospital staff used the name on that ID on the birth certificate.
Because she feared that would complicate her ability to get him a U.S. passport, she decided to solicit a visitor's visa for Francisco by falsely claiming that he was born in Mexico.
Back in Texas, the family settled down in Edinburg, where years later the boys attended J. Economedes High School.
When Francisco Galicia and his brother set out on June 27, they were headed for a soccer scouting event at Ranger College in North Texas.
Robert Arce, assistant soccer coach at the high school, said Francisco is good enough to get a fullride scholarship, showing speed, height and good sportsmanship.
"He's a good kid, and he could go play anywhere," Arce said.
But the boys had to pass through a CBP checkpoint in Falfurrias. It was there that Francisco and Marlon were detained.
Francisco had a Texas ID, Social Security card and his birth certificate. Marlon had only a school ID and lacked legal status.
"We were confident that we'd be able to pass. We were going to do something good for our futures," Marlon told the Morning News on Tuesday. "I didn't imagine this could happen and now I'm so sad that I'm not with my family."
Dallas immigration attorney Eric Cedillo, who is not involved in the case, said Francisco's complicated situation is a clear result of a mixed status family being at the mercy of the 100-mile border stretch where CBP has strong discretion at its disposal if it suspects someone of being in the country illegally.
"If they think you're in the country illegally, then they might treat you like you don't have rights. It's their job to stop people who they think might be committing fraud against the U.S.," Cedillo said.
Marlon was deported two days later. He is now in Reynosa with his grandmother.
Francisco's fingerprints were scanned by CBP officers and they found his old visitor's visa listed in the system, causing CBP officers to doubt the validity of his Texas ID, birth certificate and Social Security card, said Galan, his attorney.
Then Francisco languished in federal custody for about two weeks until the attorney hired by Sanjuana presented Francisco's birth certificate, his health insurance card, a school ID and a congratulatory certificate Parkland staff gave to his mother the day he was born to CBP officers.
But they still didn't release him.