Francisco Erwin Galicia, the 18-year-old U.S.-born citizen wrongfully jailed in two immigration detention facilities for nearly a month, said federal immigration officials tried to torment him into signing a paper agreeing to be deported. “They said they were going to charge me,” he told MSNBC’s Chris Hayes on Friday, “they would insult me so I would sign my deportation order, and well, it was all psychological damage.”
Officials presumably wanted to send him to Mexico, where they had already deported his brother following their June arrests. But while brother Marlon did lack legal status, Francisco was born here and presented his documents. He was detained anyway. In trying to explain why Border Patrol jailed him, a top agency official claimed to Congress that Francisco never said he was a U.S. citizen—a lie, disproven by the government’s own documents.
Francisco’s attorney showed Dallas News—which initially broke the news report that eventually shamed officials into releasing him after three weeks in custody—a Department of Homeland Security document given to them that stated “you falsely represented yourself to be a citizen of the United States for the purpose of furthering your entry into the United States.”
Francisco told Hayes that “From the first moment that I presented myself at the check point, I always said I was an American citizen. They even charged me because they said my papers were falsified, and I have proof because they contradict themselves because they charged me for supposedly falsifying my citizenship when I am a citizen here. It doesn't make sense what they're saying.”
The young man called the treatment he and others received “inhumane,” describing being unable to shower and in a holding cell so crowded that some men had to sleep where the toilet was. “We couldn't bathe or brush our teeth, nothing,” he told Hayes. “You didn't have anything. The only thing that they would give us from time to time, to clean ourselves were wipes.” He was so miserable and hungry—he lost more than 25 pounds during his jailing—he said he briefly considered signing that deportation paper.
When he was finally released, Francisco said officials explained nothing to him. They told him to get up, returned his street clothes to him, and then pointed to where his attorney and media were waiting. “Not one apology. Nothing,” he said. Sure, an apology would be nice, but Francisco and his family deserve more. The family has sued, and they need justice, not some empty words from officials who knew damn well he was born here and kept him detained anyway.