An 18-year-old American citizen born in Dallas who had been held in U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for nearly a month, described the “inhumane” conditions he said he experienced while being held in U.S. custody.
“It was inhumane how they treated us,” Galicia, who was detained for 23 days, told the Dallas Morning News in an interview on Wednesday. “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.”
Galicia said he lost 26 pounds because CBP agents did not give him enough food.
The teen described being crammed into an overcrowded holding area with 60 other men, where they slept on the floor and were given only aluminum-foil blankets.
He said some of the men were very sick but were afraid to ask to go to the doctor because officers told them their stay would start over if they did, Galicia said.
Galicia, a high school senior in Edinburg, Texas, was traveling to North Texas to attend a college soccer team tryout with his brother and a group of friends on June 27 when they were stopped at a CBP checkpoint in Falfurrias, Texas, according to his attorney, Claudia Galan.
The group was asked for papers. Galicia reportedly had a wallet-sized Texas birth certificate, a Texas ID card and Social Security card, Galan said. His Texas ID can only be obtained with a Social Security number.
CBP reportedly detained Galicia anyway over suspicion that his documents were fraudulent, Galan said.
“He’s been here all his life,” Galan said, but “when Border Patrol checked his documents, they just didn’t believe they were real. They kept telling him they were fake.”
Galan told the Dallas Morning News that she met with CBP officers last week and presented them with Galicia’s birth certificate and other documents but was unsuccessful in getting him released. She plans on presenting the same set of documents later this week to ICE, whose custody Galicia was transferred to on Saturday.
“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 told the outlet. “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 news outlet said it had reviewed a copy of the birth certificate and confirmed it lists Galicia as having been born at Parkland Memorial Hospital on Dec. 24, 2000.