US citizen held in detention center says conditions were so bad he was ready to sign deportation papers – Washington Examiner

A Dallas-born U.S. citizen who was held for 23 days in an immigrant detention center said he almost signed deportation papers out of desperation because the conditions were so bad.

Francisco Erwin Galicia, 18, said he wasn’t allowed to shower and he lost 26 pounds while he was in the custody of U.S. Customs and Border Protection in South Texas.

“It was inhumane how they treated us. It got to the point where I was ready to sign a deportation paper just to not be suffering there anymore. I just needed to get out of there,” he told the Dallas Morning News.

He said he was crammed into a holding area with 60 other men. Most slept on the floor of the holding area and some had to sleep on the bathroom floor. Some of the men were bitten by ticks but were afraid to go to the doctor because CBP officers told them their time in the facility would start over if they did, Galicia said.

Galicia was released from custody on Tuesday. Officials had previously declined to acknowledge his U.S. citizenship when he showed them his birth certificate.

Francisco Erwin Galicia

U.S. citizen Francisco Galicia, 18, gets a hug from his attorney, Claudia Galan, after his release from the South Texas Detention Facility in Pearsall, Texas, Tuesday, July 23, 2019.

CBP and Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials did not respond to Galicia’s claims about the conditions, but addressed their decision to detain him in a statement Wednesday.

“Generally, situations including conflicting reports from the individual and multiple birth certificates can, and should, take more time to verify,” the statement said. “While we continue to research the facts of the situation, this individual has been released from ICE custody. Both CBP and ICE are committed to the fair treatment of migrants in our custody and continue to take appropriate steps to verify all facts of this situation.”

Claudia Galan, Galicia’s attorney, said the decision to detain Galicia despite his citizenship was likely related to a visitor’s visa his mother obtained for him when he was a minor. At the time, she claimed he was born in Mexico. He did not have a U.S. passport because his mother used a fake name on his birth certificate when he was born in Dallas. She obtained a visitor’s visa for him because she thought it was the only other way she could legally travel with him across the border.

Galicia was detained on July 27 on his way to a soccer scouting event with his younger brother and several friends. While passing through a CBP checkpoint, they were asked their statuses. Galicia showed agents his Texas ID, Social Security card, and birth certificate. He said agents cast doubt on whether the documents were official.

“I told them we had rights and asked to make a phone call. But they told us, ‘You don’t have rights to anything’,” Galicia said of being taken into custody.

His younger brother, who is not a citizen, voluntarily deported to Mexico after two days in custody so that he could call their mother about the situation.

[Also read: Judge orders Customs and Border Protection to fix the conditions at its detention facilities now]

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