The Dallas Morning News is investigating the disturbing case of Francisco Erwin Galicia, an 18-year-old American citizen born in Dallas, Texas who has been held in ICE custody for the last three weeks, according to his attorney Claudia Galan. Galicia’s mother Sanjuana says she has provided ICE officials with multiple documents proving her son’s citizenship, including his birth certificate, but to no avail.
According to the family, Galicia was traveling with a group of friends including his 17-year-old brother, Marlon, who does not have legal immigration status. The group was stopped at a border checkpoint and Marlon was asked to provide proof of citizenship. He didn’t have any, but Galicia had his Texas ID — which can only be obtained via a Social Security number. Nevertheless, both brothers were detained.
Marlon was convinced to sign a voluntary deportation form after two days in ICE detention. Francisco wasn’t able to use a phone for the first three weeks of his detention, but was transported to a different facility where he was able to make collect calls to his mother, who has been fighting to get her son released.
“I presented then 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 Dallas News. “He’s going on a full month of being wrongfully detained. He’s a U.S. citizen and he needs to be released now.”
The Dallas Morning News reviewed Francisco’s birth certificate and was able to confirm its authenticity. Francisco’s mother says she also showed ICE officials a certificate she received from the Dallas hospital where her son was born along with his school ID and proof of insurance. ICE did not respond to the paper’s request for comment.
Reporters from The Washington Post believe that a U.S. tourist visa that was filed in Francisco’s name while he was still a minor may be the cause of the confusion.
“I need my son back,” she said. “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.”
Francisco isn’t alone. A Los Angeles Times investigation found 1,480 cases in which ICE had been forced to release someone from detention.
This news comes as the Trump administration dramatically expands the authority of U.S. officials to quickly arrest and deport undocumented immigrants anywhere in the U.S., without going before a judge or providing an attorney. In the past, “expedited deportation” only applied to allegedly undocumented immigrants picked up within 100 miles of the border who were unable to prove they’d been in the country for more than two weeks. Under the new policy, ICE officials will have the authority to fast-track deportation for persons anywhere in the country who are unable to prove “to the satisfaction of an immigration officer, that they have been physically present in the United States continuously for the two-year period immediately preceding” the arrest.