Francisco Erwin Galicia, an 18-year-old U.S. citizen who was released from ICE custody earlier this week after being detained for 23 days, said Thursday that he was subjected to "inhumane" conditions along with the dozens of immigrants he met during his detention.
The rising high school senior, who was born in Dallas, almost relented to deportation to get out of the overcrowded cell where he and 60 other men were forced to sleep on the floor, Galicia told the Dallas Morning News.
"It was inhumane how they treated us," he said. "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."
The Morning News publicized Galicia's ordeal this week. About 24 hours later, on Tuesday, the Department of Homeland Security finally released him.
Galicia told the newspaper that he was deprived of nourishment, lost 26 pounds in the three weeks he was in custody, and wasn't permitted to bathe. He witnessed other men sleeping on the floor of a restroom in the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) station where he stayed for most of his custody, and said some were bitten by ticks and became ill.
According to the Morning News, CBP agents told the men that if they sought medical attention, "their stay would start over."
Rights advocates, who in recent weeks have decried reports of severe neglect and abuse of detained immigrants at the hands of CBP and ICE agents, expressed anger on social media over the treatment Galicia faced.
Conditions are so bad in CBP detention centers that an 18-year old US citizen lost 26 lbs in 23 days of detention.
It has to stop.https://t.co/lJsrzGBs9D
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— MoveOn (@MoveOn) July 25, 2019
The border crisis is horrific, amid detention and separation of immigrant families. It’s also absolutely terrifying when US citizen Latinos are detained. Francisco Galicia was just released which is@good. But dozens of US citizen Latinos remain detained around the country. https://t.co/HDRFlvdkRO
— Nora Benavidez (@AttorneyNora) July 24, 2019
Let’s be clear about what happened here:
A US citizen who presented his BIRTH CERTIFICATE when he was detained, was held and TORTURED for 23 days because he has brown skin and ICE is a racist organization.https://t.co/BCh7hP7sps
— Mikel Jollett (@Mikel_Jollett) July 25, 2019
As Common Dreams reported Tuesday, Galicia, his 17-year-old brother Marlon, and three friends were stopped by CBP agents at a checkpoint on June 27. CBP agents accused Galicia of having a fraudulent birth certificate, social security card, and Texas state ID. He was held in the CBP station for more than two weeks before being transferred to an ICE detention center in Pearsall, Texas over the weekend.
When he asked to make a phone call, Galicia says he was told by agents, "You don't have rights to anything."
In order to get in touch with the boys' mother, Marlon, who is not a U.S. citizen, relented to be deported two days after they were detained. He traveled to Reynosa, Mexico—a city where drug cartels are battling for control, 250 people were murdered in 2018, and officials have raised concerns about the growing number of desperate migrants there being recruited into gangs—and informed their mother, Sanjuana Galicia, of Francisco's detention. He is still there now, according to the Morning News.
"I'm glad to have [Francisco] back home," Sanjuana told the newspaper, "but I need my other son back."