A top U.S. Border Patrol official on Thursday testified that Francisco Erwin Galicia, an 18-year-old American citizen who was detained by immigration services for more than 20 days, did not tell officers he was from the U.S.
"I can give you some prelim: individual came through the Falfurrias checkpoint, he came through with the other illegal aliens, the individual claimed to be a Mexican national who was born in Reynosa, Mexico," Brian Hastings, chief of law enforcement at the U.S. Border Patrol, told the House Judiciary Committee.
"Throughout the process, and while he was with Border Patrol, he claimed to be a citizen of Mexico with no immigration documents to be in or remain in the U.S."
Hastings also said that Galicia was detained because it was discovered he had used a U.S. visitors visa his mother got for him when he was a minor to travel back and forth from Mexico more than 50 times.
Galicia was released from Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody this week after the Dallas Morning News reported on his situation.
Galicia was detained while traveling to a soccer scouting event with his younger brother, Marlon, who is not a citizen and the "illegal alien" Hastings referred to.
When the two brothers reached a CBP checkpoint in Falfurrias, Texas, Marlon only had a school ID card, while Francisco Galicia had his Texas ID, which can only be obtained with a Social Security number.
Francisco Galicia was later transferred to an ICE facility on the belief that his documents were fraudulent, while his brother signed a voluntary deportation form and has been staying in Reynosa, Mexico.
Hastings's claim that Galicia did not inform officers of his status contradicts a notice to appear in immigration court served to Galicia obtained by the Dallas Morning News in which the Department of Homeland Security accused him of falsely claiming to be a U.S. citizen while in custody.
CBP did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill on the reported contradiction.