A U.S.-born teen has been held in a detention center for several weeks because his illegal-migrant mother earlier committed visa fraud by improperly declaring he was born outside the United States, the Washington Post revealed Tuesday.
The revelation of the mother’s central role deflated rising protests by pro-migration groups who were eager to blame border agencies for the unwarranted detention.
On Monday evening, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) – the freshman lawmaker who rose to prominence over the last month after comparing migrant shelters to concentration camps – tweeted about the U.S. teen at the center of the controversy.
“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?” she asked. “When we allow the rights of some to be violated, the rights of all are not far behind.”
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. https://t.co/U4NFQtv8F3
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) July 23, 2019
Border Patrol agents stopped Francisco Erwin Galicia, 18, at a checkpoint “in the South Texas town of Falfurrias” on June 27 as he was en route to a college soccer tryout in North Texas, along with his brother and friends.
While Galicia had papers, including a Texas birth certificate and Social Security card, his passengers – including his 17-year-old brother, who is not a U.S. citizen and does not have legal status – did not have sufficient identification. Officers saw this as a red flag and ultimately detained Galicia.
The Washington Post reports:
CBP was initially suspicious of Galicia because others in the car did not have proper identification. His 17-year-old brother, who was born in Mexico and has no legal status, only had a school ID. Galicia, born in Dallas in 2000, was taken to a CBP facility where he languished for weeks while authorities sought to confirm his Texas paperwork. He was transferred to a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention facility over the weekend, stuck in the throes of removal proceedings, Galan said. His brother, Marlon, was deported voluntarily within two days.
Agencies have been working to verify Galicia’s status as a U.S. citizen, but it has been complicated, partially due to the actions of his non-citizen mother who “took out a U.S. tourist visa in his name while he was still a minor, falsely saying he was born in Mexico.”
The Post added:
The reason it appears to have taken CBP and ICE so long to determine Galicia’s citizenship is because his mother, who is not a citizen, took out a U.S. tourist visa in his name while he was still a minor, falsely saying he was born in Mexico, Galan said. His mother, Sanjuana, told The Post that CBP discovered the visa after fingerprinting her son. The conflicting documents only fueled the agency’s suspicion that Galicia’s U.S. documents were fake, Galan said.
Sanjuana said she took out the tourist visa for her son because she saw it as the only way he could travel back and forth across the border to visit family. The undocumented mother was unable to get him a U.S. passport because when Galicia was born, Galan said, she gave a different name for herself on his birth certificate. (The birth certificate and other identifying documents were reviewed by The Post.)
Galicia was transferred to ICE custody over the weekend. His mother said he is worried he will be sent to Mexico and told the Post that she “can’t sleep thinking that they are going to harm him because they think he is lying about his citizenship.”
“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,” his attorney Claudia Galan said, according to the 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,” she continued.
“He speaks English, but he just thinks they’re going to trick him into signing a removal order and that he’ll end up getting deported,” she added.