U.S. Citizen Heading To College Soccer Tryout Arrested And Detained By ICE For A Month Despite Having Valid ID

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Who Is Francisco Erwin Galicia? New Details On U.S. Citizen Detained By ICE For A Mont

A US citizen spent nearly a month in ICE custody before finally being released. Francisco Erwin Galicia, an 18-year-old rising high school senior and soccer player, was pulled over in a standard traffic stop in late June. Officers asked for his identification and he provided authentic documents but the cops believed they were fake. They arrested him, turned him over to border agents, and kept him in custody for weeks before releasing him.

What happened to Galicia and why was he arrested? Who is Francisco Erwin Galicia? Read on for all the details.

1. Road trip

Galicia, his 17-year-old brother, and several friends were driving from their home in Edinburg, Texas to a soccer scouting event at Ranger College in North Texas. The teens were about 65 miles from home when they were pulled over at Border Patrol checkpoint in the south Texas town of Falfurrias. Agents at the traffic stop asked Galicia for his identification documents and he showed them his Texas birth certificate, a Texas ID card and Social Security card. Agents, however, didn’t think the documents were real and arrested the teen. Can we also talk about how f-ed up it is that an American born teen has to travel with documentation because of ICE?

Galicia had proper ID.

2. Arrest

The other students in the car didn’t have their identification documents with them, according to the Washington Post. CPB decided this was suspicious and assumed that Galicia’s documents might not be real. Galicia’s attorney Claudia Galan told reporters “He’s been here all his life. When Border Patrol checked his documents, they just didn’t believe they were real. They kept telling him they were fake.” Agents arrested him after that and took him to a CBP facility where he would stay for weeks.

Proper documentation didn't prevent his arrest. 

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3. Brother

Part of the confusion about Galicia’s status had to do with the presence of his brother in the car. Marlon Galicia is 17 and was born in Mexico. He does not have legal status in America, though Francisco was born in Dallas. Marlon agreed to be deported shortly after the incident, according to the Dallas Morning News. He told the paper: “We were confident that we’d be able to pass. We were going to do something good for our futures. I didn’t imagine this could happen and now I’m so sad that I’m not with my family.”

He went on to say: “I signed because I wanted to talk with my mom. Now, we just have to wait and see and hope that they release my brother.”

The elder Galicia brother wasn’t allowed to use the phone at all during his incarceration with CPB.

He was detained for nearly a month.

4. Confusion

After fingerprinting Galicia, CPB found that, despite the ample proof that he is a US citizen, there was a tourist visa from Mexico in his name. His mother, who is not a citizen, took out a U.S. tourist visa in his name while he was still a minor, incorrectly saying he was born in Mexico. She told reporters that she took out the visa because she thought it was the only way he could travel to and from Mexico to visit other family members. She was unable to get a passport for her son because her name was not correct on his birth certificate. Galan said she worked to provide additional paperwork to authorities to try and secure his release. “I presented them 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 said. “He’s going on a full month of being wrongfully detained. He’s a U.S. citizen and he needs to be released now.”

Social media posts have expressed outrage.

5. Deportation

After weeks in CPB custody, the agency transferred Galicia to an ICE facility and was beginning the deportation process to send the teen to Mexico. Reporting by the Dallas Morning News showed that the ICE detainee locator system indicated he was being held at the South Texas Detention Facility in Pearsall and lists him as having been born in Mexico.

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The case raises questions of racial profiling by border agents.

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6. Attention and release

Once the Dallas Morning News reported the story, attention focused on the wrongful arrest quickly. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted about the case, saying “CBP is detaining *American citizens*. How would you feel trapped in a border camp, where guards wear face masks because the human odor is so strong? When we allow the rights of some to be violated, the rights of all are not far behind.” Reporting from various outlets founds that both the LA Times and the conservative CATO Institute have revealed that CPB has detained hundreds of citizens like Galicia. The CATO report pointed out that hundreds of citizens have been jailed this way between 2006 and 2017.

All the scrutiny seems to have pushed ICE to close out the case quickly. Only one day after the Dallas Morning News’ initial story on the case, the Daily Beast reported that Galicia was released. Galan says that she believes Galicia was a victim of racial profiling that she is “so thankful Francisco is free and he can sleep at home tonight and see his mom.”

AOC raised attention by tweeting.

All told, Galicia was in custody for 27 days.

Rebekah Kuschmider has been writing about celebrities, pop culture, entertainment, and politics since 2010. Her work has been seen at Ravishly, Babble, Scary Mommy, The Mid, Redbook online, and The Broad Side. She is the creator of the blog Stay at Home Pundit and she is a cohost of the weekly podcast The More Perfect Union.