Things That Matter

This US Citizen Was Just Released From ICE Custody Where He Was Detained For More Than Three Weeks And Like How Is This Happening?

An American teenager who was detained by U.S. immigration authorities for almost a month, despite being a citizen, was finally released on Tuesday. Francisco Erwin Galicia, 18, who was born in Dallas, Texas, spent 23 days in the custody of U.S. Customs and Border Protection in conditions that he called “inhumane”. Galicia says he lost over 25 pounds during his time in a Texas immigrant detention center because officers there didn’t give him enough food. The conditions were so bad he reportedly almost opted to self-deport himself. 

So how did a legal U.S. citizen get detained by border officials and for this long?

Credit: @Qasimrashid / Twitter

Francisco had been traveling with a group of friends and his 17-year-old brother Marlon, who was born in Mexico and does not have legal status, from Southern Texas to Ranger College for a soccer event back on June 27th. That afternoon, the group came across a border patrol checkpoint where they were asked for documentation.

Marlon said he had passed through previous checkpoints without having to present paperwork but immigration agents handled things stricter this time around. While Marlon only had his had his school ID, Francisco had a Texas ID, a Social Security card, and his birth certificate. But that still wasn’t enough. 

According to CBS News, Francisco was detained because he did not have his passport and CBP agents suspected that his documents were forged. After collecting his fingerprints, they found out that Francisco had a U.S. tourist visa in his name that read that his birthplace was in Mexico. 

“They thought they were fake,” Francisco told ABC Dallas affiliate WFAA in an interview Tuesday. “I had all my papers, but they still didn’t believe me. I don’t know the reason why.”

His mother Sanjuana, who is an undocumented citizen, had gotten him the visa while he was still a minor and falsely listed his birthplace because she thought it was the only way he could travel to Mexico to visit family.

The brothers would eventually get separated and Francisco would be sent to a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention center. 

Credit: @weau13news / Twitter

Marlon would sign a voluntary deportation form after two days in detention and would be placed with his grandmother in Mexico. But his brother would stay under CBP custody for three more weeks where he would endure harsh conditions. Despite Francisco’s lawyer, Claudia Galan, bringing the necessary documentation, including his birth certificate, to border officials, he was not released. The reasoning was the conflicting paperwork he originally presented. 

At the detention facility, Francisco was not allowed to make phone calls or even shower. “I told them we had rights and asked to make a phone call. But they told us, ‘You don’t have rights to anything’,” Francisco Galicia told the Dallas News.

Things would only get worse from there for Francisco.

Credit: @marshallproject / Twitter

Francisco described to the Dallas News about the conditions in CBP detention and how bad things got during his more than three week stay there. He says he heard about the tough conditions on TV but was completely different to go through it himself. 

“It’s one thing to see these conditions on TV and in the news. It’s another to go through them,” Galicia said.

He says he was crammed into an overcrowded holding area with 60 other men and all had to sleep on the floor and were given only aluminum-foil blankets as cover. Some men even slept on the bathroom floor. They were also bitten by ticks and many got sick throughout his stay. He said that many of the men were too afraid to ask officers to see a doctor because they said they had been told their stay would “start over” if they did.

After a total of 23 days in detention in CBP and Immigration and Customs Enforcement facilities, Francisco was finally released this past Tuesday. Now, many are looking for answers not only about his detention but the horrid conditions the 18-year-old described.

Credit: @lauraswift79 / Twitter

CBP and ICE officials have yet to respond to Galicia’s claims of poor conditions at the holding facility but did issue a joint statement Wednesday about detaining him. 

“Generally, situations including conflicting reports from the individual and multiple birth certificates can, and should, take more time to verify,” the statement read. “While we continue to research the facts of the situation, this individual has been released from ICE custody. Both CBP and ICE are committed to the fair treatment of migrants in our custody and continue to take appropriate steps to verify all facts of this situation.”

Many on social media were angry to find out the conditions in the detention facilities. One user on Twitter questioned how this could happen, especially to a legal U.S. citizen. 

“This is heartbreaking & ridiculous!  How can we treat other human beings this way & be okay with it?!?!?!  Makes me sick to my stomach.  #humanityFirst  Francisco Erwin Galicia says he wasn’t allowed to shower for 23 days in ICE custody.”

Despite all this, Francisco’s mother said she’s just glad to have her son back home with his family. 

“I’m just so thankful to God and to everyone who spoke up about my son’s situation. she said. “I’m glad to have him back home, but I need my other son back.”

READ: An Autopsy Reveals Harrowing New Details About A Guatemalan Teen Who Died In Border Patrol Custody

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ICE Illegally Arrested A Man On Church Grounds After Allegedly Lying To Him To Coax Him Out

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ICE Illegally Arrested A Man On Church Grounds After Allegedly Lying To Him To Coax Him Out

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Across the country, dozens of undocumented immigrants have sought refuge at churches, where they are typically safe from immigration enforcement.

However, as ICE escalates its attacks on the immigrant community, churches and other sensitive places of refuge may no longer be the ‘safe spaces’ they once were.

ICE has allegedly arrested a man who was inside of a church and they lied to get him out.

Last week, six ICE agents entered an undocumented migrant’s home (located on church property) and now that man is in a Georgia detention center. Binsar Siahaan, 52 (from Indonesia), was told that there was a problem with the GPS monitor he had to wear and that they needed to take him to an ICE office in Silver Springs, MD.

“As soon as he stepped outside, they handcuffed him,” taking him first to Baltimore and then to Georgia. He was not given anything to eat for two days, Rev. Scroggins said through tears. She said, “He is being abused. He is not well,” adding, “The way he is being treated is absolutely appalling.”

Siahaan currently is being held in the Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin, Ga. and may be deported to his native Indonesia. He has been in the United States since 1989, coming here on a visa to work as a driver for the Indonesian Embassy. He overstayed the terms of the visa and then was denied asylum, because he did not apply on time.

But in Siahaan’s case, at the time they moved into the house on church grounds in January, they had no reason to fear ICE would come after them. They moved in to help take care of the church, which they have been attending for about six years.

Siahaan’s attorney and clergy at Glenmont United Methodist are rallying to stop Siahaan’s deportation, accusing ICE of breaching its own protocol by arresting him on church property under false pretenses and while his appeals are still pending.

The church where it happened is urging ICE to release the man – who is still in custody.

Leaders of the United Methodist Church – where the arrest occurred – have called for ICE to release Siahaan. They also called on ICE to state publically that it will uphold its policy of not entering sensitive locations, which includes “churches, synagogues, mosques or other institutions of worship, such as buildings rented for the purpose of religious services,” according to an ICE 2011 memorandum

“We are gravely concerned,” said Rev. Susan Henry-Crowe, general secretary of the general board of the Church and Society of the United Methodist Church. “Church grounds are sacred.” She said the government was “in complicity to sin” if it won’t protect immigrants.

Rev. Kara Scroggins, pastor of the Glenmont church where Binsar has been a member for six years, called Siahaan “one of the most devoted, loyal and generous persons I know.” He helps out at the church constantly and usually is the first to arrive and the last to leave, she said.

This is hardly the first time ICE has conducted similar operations.

Credit: Smith Gado / Getty Images

An immigrant who sought refuge from deportation in a North Carolina church, staying there for 11 months, was arrested in 2018 after arriving at an appointment with immigration officials.

The arrest led to protests and the arrest of some supporters of Samuel Oliver-Bruno, the 47-year-old Mexican national who, according to an ICE news release, was detained at a Raleigh-area immigration office.

An advocacy group, Alerta Migratoria NC, said in a statement Oliver-Bruno went to have fingerprints taken so he could apply to stay in North Carolina with his wife and son. This is when ICE stopped in to make the arrest.

He had been living in CityWell United Methodist Church in Durham since late 2017, to avoid the reach of immigration officers, who generally avoid making arrests at churches and other sensitive locations.

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Court Says That ICE Needs To Follow The Constitution When Making Arrests And Here’s Why That’s Such A Big Deal

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Court Says That ICE Needs To Follow The Constitution When Making Arrests And Here’s Why That’s Such A Big Deal

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In what many are calling a landmark decision, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals just handed a major victory to migrant’s rights advocates. Although the major ruling seems simple on paper, it has major legal implications and could truly change the way that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents arrest undocumented immigrants.

However, the decision is likely to be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court – where it would face an uncertain legal future given the possible future makeup of the nation’s highest court.

The 9th Circuit Court just issued a landmark legal decision that could greatly affect ICE arrests.

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Long-standing rules for arresting migrants may soon need to change, thanks to a recent ruling by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

The court says that ICE needs to align its arresting and detention procedures with those of all other law enforcement agencies in the country, which are guided by rules within the U.S. constitution. When police arrest people for suspected crimes, the constitution requires them to show probable cause to a judge within 48 hours. But ICE does not do that. When ICE arrests people, it typically holds them for weeks before any judge evaluates whether ICE had a valid legal basis to make the arrest.

But ICE’s policies may no longer be legal.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said the usual constitutional rules that apply to normal police all over the country also apply to ICE. “The Fourth Amendment requires a prompt probable cause determination by a neutral and detached magistrate,” the court said. This really shouldn’t be a big deal. Prompt independent review by a judge of whether the government has a legal basis to take away a person’s freedom is an essential safeguard against tyranny.

ICE’s arrest and detention policies have long come under scrutiny for seemingly skirting constitutional rules.

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For almost 200 years, immigration enforcement has existed in a sort of grey area, where the usual rules never applied. For example, when ICE arrests people, individual officers have much more legal discretion than other law enforcement authorities. Detainees may be held for weeks or months before going to a judge who will ask the person how they plead to ICE’s allegations against them.

Only then, long after the initial arrest, might ICE actually be required to show a judge any evidence to back up its case. The person would have spent all of that time detained, likely at a private detention center in a remote area.

For any other person in the U.S., this procedure goes against every legal protection in the constitution. But ICE has gotten away with treating immigrants this way for generations.

The ruling comes as other courts are making it easier for ICE to abuse migrant’s constitutional rights.

The ruling by the 9th Circuit comes less than a week after the 1st Circuit overturned a ban prohibiting ICE from arresting undocumented immigrants at courthouses in Massachusetts.

In 2018, ICE created a policy of attempting to arrest undocumented immigrants when they appeared at state courthouses for judicial proceedings. However, a district court granted an injunction against the policy after migrant advocates filed a lawsuit against ICE. They claimed that ICE was in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) and lacked authority to make civil arrests at courts.

Meanwhile, ICE has resumed large-scale enforcement operations, announcing roughly 2,000 arrests over several weeks amid the Coronavirus pandemic. The 9th Circuit’s decision raises an obvious question: How many of those people were detained for more than 48 hours without a review by a judge?

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