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Mother's false visa request for U.S. citizen son years earlier led to him being detained by ICE

He has since been released after being held for weeks

Alex Wong/Getty Images

A U.S. citizen was detained by Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement for weeks before being released Tuesday, after being stopped at a CBP checkpoint in south Texas—a mistake caused by a fraudulent visa his mother requested for him years before, according to The Dallas Morning News.

What's the news?

DMN reported the detention of Francisco Erwin Galicia on Monday. He had been detained first by CBP, then by ICE after being picked up at a CBP checkpoint in Falfurrias, Texas, on June 27. He and his brother Marlon, and some friends, were traveling to a soccer scouting event in north Texas.

His mother and his attorney protested the detention, on the basis that he was a natural born citizen who was born in Dallas in 2000. They sent his birth certificate and other documentation to CBP and ICE.

Even at the time he was arrested, he had a state ID on him, something that can only be obtained with a social security number.

The problem was, when CBP looked in the system, they saw a visitor's visa from years before that showed him as having been born in Mexico, which cast doubt on the validity of his documentation.

According to Francisco's mother, Sanjuana, when Francisco was 1 year old they moved from Dallas back to Reynosa, Mexico, while she was pregnant with his younger brother Marlon. Marlon was born in Reynosa, and was deported back there after being stopped along with Francisco in June.

Sanjuana, who is an illegal immigrant, then wanted to move back to the U.S. to escape drug cartel violence in Reynosa. She feared she would not be able to get Francisco a passport because her name was not on his birth certificate—she used a fake ID while living and working in Dallas—so she applied for a visitor's visa for him and said he was born in Mexico.

After that, the family lived in Edinburg, Texas, where Francisco still lives and attended high school.

Why does it matter?

The narrative surrounding this situation after the initial DMN report was developing to focus on ICE unjustly holding a citizen just because of his apparent nationality and/or familial relation to illegal immigrants.

The revelation that the mistake was caused, at least in part, by a nearly two-decades old fraudulent visa changes things significantly.

While it is still a terrible thing that a U.S. citizen was detained through no fault of his own for weeks, it seems clear that law enforcement officials, whose job it is to verify the truth and validity of the information they are given, had multiple reasons for pause when it came to Francisco's documentation. If there is any legitimate criticism, it is perhaps tied to the question of why this took nearly a month to straighten out while Francisco sat in a detention facility.

The damage has already been done to Francisco, and to the perception of immigration enforcement in the eyes of those who are already prone to demonize it, but thankfully the situation has come to a happy resolution.

One last thing…
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