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18-Year-Old U.S. Citizen Held in Immigration Detention for a Month Has Finally Been Released

Border Protection authorities questioned the authenticity of his Texas ID card, his Social Security card, and a small copy of his birth certificate

by Emma Ockerman
Jul 24 2019, 1:26pm

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UPDATE 7/24 12:50 p.m.: Customs and Border Protection and ICE released a joint statement early Wednesday afternoon saying the situation involves "conflicting reports from the individual and multiple birth certificates, and should take more time to verify."

The young, Texas-born U.S. citizen wrongly held in migrant detention for nearly a month was finally released on Tuesday.

Immigration authorities freed 18-year-old Francisco Erwin Galicia after widespread outrage regarding his June 27 arrest at a border checkpoint in Falfurrias, according to the Washington Post. Galicia’s attorney and mother told the Post and the Dallas Morning News that Border Protection authorities questioned the authenticity of Galicia’s Texas ID card, his Social Security card, and the small copy of his birth certificate that he was carrying with him and presented at the time.

“He’s been here all his life,” Claudia Galan, his attorney, told the Washington Post. But “when Border Patrol checked his documents, they just didn’t believe they were real. They kept telling him they were fake.”

Galicia was traveling with his 17-year-old brother, Marlon, who is undocumented. Both were heading to a soccer scouting event in north Texas. Marlon was deported and is in Reynosa with his family. He was transferred from Customs and Border Protection custody to Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody last week. Galicia’s mother tried to show both agencies copies of his birth certificate.

READ: 4,000 migrant kids might have to spend the rest of the their childhood in federal custody

The confusion behind the validity of his documents might’ve stemmed from a U.S. tourist visa taken out in his name, where his mother falsely described him as being born in Mexico. She is undocumented, and was unable to get him a U.S. passport to travel to Mexico to visit family.

This isn’t the first time a U.S. citizen has been detained by federal immigration authorities. Last year, immigration authorities tried to deport a citizen and Marine veteran.

Cover: This Feb. 10, 2009 file photo shows the South Texas Detention Center is seen in Pearsall, Texas. An 18-year-old who was born in the U.S. has been released from immigration custody here after wrongfully being detained for more than three weeks. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)

border patrol
Border Protection