U.S. Teen in "Legal Limbo" as Gov't Seeks to Deport

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EDINBURG – A U.S. teen from Edinburg who was held by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, then released in July, is encountering more problems.

Late-September, the Department of Homeland Security notified him that his removal proceedings continue.

Francisco Erwin Galicia is in what his attorney, Claudia Galan, describes as "legal limbo."

ICE is still trying to remove him from the country after detaining him over the summer. 

Galicia and his brother were stopped at the Falfurrias checkpoint as they were heading to a soccer game in Ranger, Texas in late-June of this year.

Both were transferred to ICE custody.

The brother was deported after the agency discovered he had overstayed on a tourist visa. Galicia was held at the Pearsall Detention Facility for over three weeks.

In the meantime, Galan submitted his birth certificate showing Galicia was born in a Dallas hospital.

She also shared other documents as evidence of his citizenship. 

She explained, "We also submitted DNA proof that his mom is Francisco's mother. Along with that we submitted his social security card, a Texas ID and also the medicaid benefits card for Francisco."

ICE sent a statement at the time which explained there were "conflicting reports regarding status of citizenship." 

Yet, on July 23, Galicia was released from detention. 

By then, Galicia had lost 26 pounds. Galan says he has since been working on improving his overall health.

"He's also gone to medical treatments and psychological sessions with a counselor," she added. 

On Sept. 25, ICE, still tangled in what they called the "conflicting" nature of his citizenship sent a letter notifying "that the Department of Homeland Security, ICE is moving forward with filing the notice to appear in immigration court," recounted Galan.

Galicia and Galan will have to prove his citizenship to an immigration judge.

The government is focused on a few contradictory documents they showed a federal judge during an injunction hearing against Customs and Border Protection

They showed Galicia's Mexican birth certificate which was registered with a date after his U.S. birth certificate was created.

The government also questioned the pseudonym used by Galicia's mother on the U.S. birth certificate.

They also presented a record of Galicia's travel through the U.S.-Mexico border and called attention to the use of a border crossing card, a travel document more commonly used by non-citizens.

Testimony offered in court suggested economic and marital circumstances led to the creation of a Mexican birth certificate and the pseudonym used on the U.S. birth certificate.

Both of those issues later affected Galicia's ability to apply for a passport, thus having to resort to a border crossing card. 

Galan explained ICE has the ability to dismiss the claim, but decided to file it in immigration court.

The notice to appear in court does not currently have a scheduled date.

Galan fears that could take a year to be placed before a judge.

By then, Galicia would have graduated and applied for college. If he attends college out of Texas, immigration proceedings could affect his future plans.

"But if he decides to go out of state, that'll be something that he'll have to come over here to attend to," explained Galan.

ICE sent a statement that reads:

“As a matter of policy, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement does not comment on pending litigation. However, lack of comment should not be construed as agreement with or stipulation to any of the allegations. As part of the Department of Homeland Security’s homeland security mission, our trained law enforcement professionals adhere to the Department’s mission and values, and uphold our laws while continuing to provide the nation with safety and security.”

Galan says in order to speed up the process in immigration court, they could file in federal court.

She says that may be an option the family pursues in the future.

Galicia and his brother were on their way to a soccer scouting event when they were stopped in Falfurrias.

Galan says they missed out on that opportunity, but they are still trying to look for other scholarship opportunities.


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