U.S. cit­i­zen held by ICE and CBP for 3 weeks is re­leased

Lodi News-Sentinel - - PAGE TWO - By Obed Manuel

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.

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