UPDATE: Claudia Galan, attorney for 18-year-old student athlete Francisco Erwin Galicia of Edinburg, confirmed to the media Tuesday afternoon that her client has been released.
EDINBURG — Nearly one month ago, Francisco Erwin Galicia, his younger brother and a few others were headed to Houston on a recruiting trip in hopes of impressing coaches enough to earn a soccer scholarship.
Instead, a little less than an hour into the trip, Galicia and those in his group, including his brother Marlon, were detained by U.S. Border Patrol agents after being asked for additional paperwork during their stop at the Falfurrias checkpoint.
Claudia Galan, a McAllen-based immigration attorney, said Galicia, 18, is a U.S.-born citizen and was born in Dallas in 2000. Galacia’s mother, San Juanita Galicia, had moved the family back to the Rio Grande Valley around 2002.
She said Galicia provided to the Border Patrol agents a wallet-sized birth certificate showing that he was in fact born in Dallas in 2000, but he was not released.
His attorney believes agents held Galicia despite his birth certificate because of an issue with an additional document that showed he was born in Mexico and not in Dallas, as stated on his birth certificate.
“The problem is that he has a Mexican Tourist Visa,” Galan said. “At the time that his mother registered his birth certificate, she used a fake name. Because of that name on the birth certificate, she could never get him a passport, and she never corrected the birth certificate to get him a passport. Instead of doing that, she thought it would be easier to get him a tourist Visa listing him as being born in Mexico.
“So there is a conflict of his nationality, and that’s why he’s still detained.”
Still, Galan further noted that Border Patrol agents had his birth certificate “from day one,” and that his brother had said he overheard Border Patrol agents “checking the database and saying that he did appear in the database as being born in Dallas, Texas, and that he was a U.S. citizen.”
Galan added: “So Border Patrol did confirm this information yet they kept him under custody.”
Marlon Galicia, on the other hand, did not have legal status to remain in the U.S. and opted to be deported to Reynosa, Mexico, where he has relatives. The other two in the group were ultimately released from custody, Galan said.
Upon arriving in Reynosa two days after being detained, Marlon Galicia contacted his mother about the situation and about what happened to his brother.
The attorney said Galicia was finally able to make contact with his family on Saturday after he was placed in U.S. Immigration Customs and Enforcement custody.
Before Saturday, Galicia’s family, and Galan, had no idea where the teenager, a student-athlete at Edinburg Economedes High School, and still don’t know.
Galan, who was at a border patrol facility trying to find other clients she represented, said attorneys for Border Patrol told her that because Galicia had not given his permission that his information be released, they could not tell them where he was being housed.
Asked why they could hold someone like Galicia for so long without contacting or allowing for him to contact his family, Galan did not have an answer.
“Apparently they can,” she said. “They’re not letting their family members know where they’re located. Francisco is not the only client that I’m looking for. …Others are held for a long time, sometimes waiting 30 or 40 days.”
As for Marlon Galicia, who remains in Reynosa with his grandmother, Galan said she will likely work to get a relative to help with a petition for him to re-enter the country. But she’s also focused on Galicia’s situation, which is the current urgent matter at hand.
Galan said Tuesday afternoon she will be at the South Texas Detention Complex in Pearsall, Texas to accompany Galicia, where he is expected to appear for an interview with an ICE official regarding his legal status in the country.
Galicia’s attorney said there is a possibility that the teen is released as soon as Tuesday afternoon.