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Attorney for Teens Detained by Border Patrol Claims Both Are US Citizens

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PHARR – Two Pharr teens, who were detained by U.S. Border Patrol last week, are back home.

The Rodriguez brothers were arrested last week by Border Patrol agents after they failed to prove U.S. citizenship.

CHANNEL 5 NEWS contacted U.S. Customs and Border Protection, as well as Immigration and Customs Enforcement, to gather details surrounding the arrest.

The arrest happened May 1.

Siblings, Simon Rodriguez, 19, and Emilio Rodriguez, 17, missed school that day.

The pair decided to visit their dad who was working in the fields on a land near the river in Pharr.

Mr. Rodriguez was upset his kids overslept and missed school. So, he opted to teach them a lesson.

He asked them to help him in the field. 

He says he thought, “I’m going to teach them a lesson that if you don't go to school, this is where you'll end up, working here.” 

As his two sons were helping in the fields, Border Patrol agents showed up.

They were taken into custody.

Simon was taken to Pearsaw, TX and Emilio was taken to a facility in Brownsville under the Texas Department of Health and Human Services, since he's a minor.  

However, the story doesn’t end there.

This is where it gets complicated. The teens aren't in the U.S. illegally.

“These children were allowed to come into the country through the bridge [Port of Entry] when they were four and five years old, with their American citizen parent and the reason why they were allowed to come in is because CBP acknowledged and accepted that by virtue of the father they were American citizens born abroad,” says Alex Martinez, immigration attorney. 

Simon and Emilio Rodriguez were born in Mexico.

Their attorney Alex Martinez explains the teens qualified for U.S. Citizenship status at birth. However, the proof doesn't exist; the teens don't have paperwork to show they are U.S. citizens.

Martinez said lack of paperwork doesn't change their status. 

“Just because they were not able to get the certificate, it does not mean they were not born Americans,” says Martinez. 

Without the paperwork, Simon and Emilio couldn't prove to Border Patrol agents they weren't here legally.

Rodriguez wasn’t around when his children were taken into custody because at that moment he was running an errand. 

“My kids were on the phone telling me Border Patrol was taking them. I told them they can't do that. ‘Tell them your dad is a U.S. citizen. They have to understand if they know the law.’ I don't think they did,” says Rodriguez.

He believes the agents failed to see his sons’ legal status. 

Agents took the teens before Rodriguez could explain the situation of their status in the country. 

Both siblings have since been released and are back home. 

They are pending an immigration hearing. That date still hasn't been set yet.

Martinez says the family is preparing to apply for Simon and Emilio’s citizenship certificate.

The document will serve as a proof of status that will prevent this situation from happening again.  

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