Things That Matter

American Teen Traveling With Multiple Forms Of ID Detained In Border Patrol Facility Plans To Sue The Government

In June, eighteen-year-old, Dallas born, high school student, Francisco Galicia, was arrested by ICE, and held in a detention center for almost a month even though he was carrying his driver’s license, his social security card, and copy of his birth certificate. 

Just days after being released, Galicia announced he plans to sue the government for his unlawful detainment.

Galicia had been traveling with friends to Ranger College from Edinburg, where he lives with family, when he was stopped at a border checkpoint, near Falufrrias, Texas. In TV news interviews, Galicia told reporters that the border agents insisted that his documents were fakes, and they wouldn’t believe that they were real. WFAA, in Texas, reported that agents told Galicia “you falsely represented yourself to be a citizen of the United States,” reported WFAA.

Spending nearly a month in the Texas detention center, Galicia saw conditions first-hand. He was housed in a room with sixty or seventy other people, wasn’t allowed to brush his teeth, his skin was dirty and dry, and he lost, a reported, twenty-six pounds. In despair about the conditions, Galicia who said that he didn’t want to suffer a day longer inside the detention center, almost volunteered to be deported. He told the the Dallas News that conditions were so cramped in the detention center that some detained migrants had to sleep on the bathroom floor.

“I almost signed an order to be deported because I didn’t want to suffer anymore. I was at that breaking point,” said Galicia.

Galicia’s lawyer, Claudia Galan believes that Galicia was a victim of racial profiling. She stated that a tourist visa issued to Galicia which incorrectly named México has Galicia’s place of birth caused the initial confusion.  In an interview given as Galicia left the detention center, Galan said, “He is a US Citizen, a natural born citizen of the United States. His mother had obtained a tourist visa, but Francisco did not apply for that visa. He is a US citizen, and we we need to focus on that. US Citizens cannot be detained.” 

According to Snopes, “The others in the vehicle with him were all Latinos, including his 17-year-old brother Marlon, who was born in Mexico and was in the U.S. illegally. Marlon told the Morning News that he agreed to be returned to Mexico.” 

It is not uncommon for Latinx people in the US to be from mixed-status families.

Reaction to this story about the eighteen-year-old Galicia by Latinx Twitter was swift. Presidential hopeful, Julian Castro, weighed in, asserting that Galicia’s detainment was not an anomaly. 

“As Trump stirs fear of immigrants to advance his racist agenda, the persecution of citizens of color is a dark, calculated outcome. Francisco Galicia was born in Dallas. His detention isn’t an anomaly—it’s a call to action. We must change our course.”

With their tweets, @blogdiva and @ldorothy21 both expressed the darkest fears of many Latinx people in the US.

@blogdiva and @ldorothy21 both predict and fear the detainment of all US born Latinx.

Twitter user @realXica believes that none of what happened to Galicia should happen to anyone “regardless of status.”

@CBP took a US citizens documents, told him he has no rights, starved him, didn’t allow him to contact family for 3 wks… @CBP is out of control. Every guard complicit w/holding a US citizen held criminally liable for kidnapping. Shouldn’t happen to anyone regardless of status!”

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2020 Has Been A Tragic Year As A Record Number Of Migrants Die In ICE Custody

Things That Matter

2020 Has Been A Tragic Year As A Record Number Of Migrants Die In ICE Custody

Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

The news out of 2020 continues to devastate and it’s getting harder and harder to be shocked by just how horrible things are looking. However, the level of neglect inside ICE detention centers is so shocking that it’s leading to a record number of deaths. No matter what year it is, that is shocking.

It’s been 14 years, during the presidency of George Bush, since ICE detention centers have recorded the level of deaths that they’re recording this year. Despite warnings from health and immigration experts, ICE has largely refused to release immigrants from overcrowded cells despite an ongoing and out of control global health pandemic. This blatant disregard for life has had a huge impact as at least 18 people have died while in ICE detention centers so far this fiscal year.

ICE is responsible for the well-being of individuals in its custody and has broad discretion to release people for humanitarian reasons. The government should test everyone in its custody for COVID-19 and increase releases to prevent further deaths.

Three recent deaths in ICE detention centers bring 2020’s total to the second highest since 2006.

The death toll for immigrants in ICE custody reached the highest level since 2006 after three more people died this week.

Last week, it was reported that two men died while in ICE detention on August 5. One of the men who died last week was James Thomas Hill, a 72-year-old Canadian citizen who tested positive for COVID-19 about a month before his death. He was detained for three months at Farmville Detention Center in Virginia, despite being high-risk due to his age.

A 51-year-old man from Taiwan, Kuan Hui Lee, also died on August 5. Lee had been detained at Krome Detention Center in Florida for 7 months because he had overstayed a visa 16 years ago. While further details of his medical condition and death have not been reported, ICE has a long history of medical neglect of people in its custody with serious health conditions.

Then on August 11, Buzzfeed News reported that a 70-year-old Costa Rican man died in ICE custody at a Georgia Hospital on August 10, 2020, after testing positive for COVID-19. The man had been detained at the Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin, Georgia. According to AJC.com, the detainee suffered from diabetes and hypertension and had been hospitalized since August 4, 2020. ICE officials confirmed the death to BuzzFeed News, but have not released any additional details yet.

These tragedies increased the total deaths in ICE custody this fiscal year to 18, the highest number since 2006. Many—if not all—of the deaths that occur in ICE custody are avoidable.

“Many of these deaths were avoidable, unnecessary, and a direct result of the Trump administration’s refusal to take basic steps to protect the health and safety of detainees,” John Sandweg, a former ICE director during the Obama administration, told BuzzFeed News.

Many deaths have been attributed to Covid-19 but that’s not the complete picture.

Coronavirus has swept through ICE detention centers like wildfire and this has had a major impact on the health and welfare of detainees, the community, and even ICE employees.

So far this year, more than twice as many people have died in ICE custody over last year. And, unfortunately, there are at least 1,065 active Covid-19 cases in ICE detention centers, meaning more people are likely to get sick and die before the year ends.

The number of deaths is especially alarming considering the average number of people detained has been significantly lower this year than in recent years.

Farmville, an ICE detention center in Virgina, has the largest COVID-19 outbreak in immigration detention. As of August 6, over 97% of people held in this ICE facility had contracted COVID-19. The outbreak began as a super-spreader event caused by a transfer of 74 people from Florida and Arizona.

Advocates have consistently criticized ICE for failing to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among the people it detains.

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ICE Is Offering A Master Class To The Public On How To Handle Weapons And Arrest Immigrants

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ICE Is Offering A Master Class To The Public On How To Handle Weapons And Arrest Immigrants

Gregory Bull / Getty Images

By mid-October, there could be professionally trained armies of ordinary citizens patrolling the streets looking to arrest immigrants. And they’d be doing the dirty work of ICE – which has launched a program in Chicago specifically to help train and equip the public on the skills and knowledge needed to do it effectively.

According to ICE, the program is little more than a chance to educate and enlighten the public on the challenges the agency faces on a daily basis. They claim that their work is grossly misunderstood. Yet the description of the six-week-long program literally describes familiarizing recruits with firearms and how to make targeted arrests.

Chicago’s ICE office announced a “citizen’s academy” to teach the public on how to arrest immigrants.

The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency is launching a class for private citizens in Chicago on how to arrest undocumented immigrants.

The course, which begins on September 15 and will run one class a week for six weeks, will train non-agents in firearms, defensive training and how to make ‘targeted arrests.’ ICE plan to roll out the program to cities across the country.

The Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) Chicago Citizens Academy is a six-week program modeled after similar trainings held by other law enforcement agencies. ICE will select 10 to 12 participants for the training, which is set to start in September.

Many Chicagoans have received letters inviting them to apply. During the program, according to the letter, “participants will gain insight into the many facets and responsibilities of ICE/ERO operations, and hopefully an awareness and appreciation of the issues our officers face every day in the performance of their duties.”

But immigration activists aren’t buying the story ICE wants to tell.

Several of Chicago’s elected officials have come out strongly against the program, saying there is no room for this academy in the city of Chicago.

“I think it’s outrageous that they are trying to do this in Chicago. This is a sanctuary city that we’ve fought so hard for,” said Alderwoman Rossana Rodriguez, in an interview with Fox 11.

Rodriguez read the letter and said she was concerned about the language in the letter, which reads, in part, “attendees will participate in scenario-based training and exercises conducted in a safe and positive environment, including, but not limited to defensive tactics, firearms familiarization, and targeted arrests.”

“What it sounds like to me is a vigilante academy,” Rodriguez said. “We need to be educating the community so that they don’t sign up for it. I think the city needs to speak out against this programming. This isn’t welcomed in Chicago.”

Congressman Jesús ‘Chuy’ García, wonders if the course is part of ICE’s plan to have neighbors spy on others to see if they’re undocumented and report back to the agency.

Although the program is outrageous, it’s been taking place in Los Angeles for years.

The program was just announced in Chicago last week but it has been in operation for several years in other cities across the country. In fact, Los Angeles – another sanctuary city – has had a similar academy in place since 2016. However, unlike Chicago’s program which will be run by the ERO, LA’s program is managed by ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) division.

Regardless of who is running the program, many are rightfully worried about its implications. Silky Shah, executive director of Detention Watch Network, said in a statement, “ICE is recruiting an army of ‘citizens’ to fuel its propaganda machine and forge hatred in our communities. The outcome of this program will be more terror unleashed upon immigrant communities and people of color.”

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