Democrats seek answers from CBP on detention of US citizens

Democrats seek answers from CBP on detention of US citizens
© Aaron Schwartz

A group of Democratic representatives wrote to Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Acting Commissioner Mark Morgan Monday, asking to clarify the circumstances under which U.S. citizens were placed in immigration detention.

In the letter, led by Texas Democratic Reps. Vicente Gonzalez and Colin Allred, the lawmakers ask for clarification on the case of Francisco Erwin Galicia, an 18-year-old U.S. citizen who spent nearly a month in custody after being detained at a Border Patrol checkpoint in Texas in June.

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According to multiple media reports, Galicia was on his way to a college soccer tryout when he was detained by Border Patrol agents, who said his identification documents were fake.

Galicia, whose birth certificate shows he was born in Dallas, was detained in a Border Patrol facility and then transferred to an Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility before being released in late July.

"Detaining lawful U.S. citizens at border checkpoints is not immigration enforcement,” said Gonzalez in a statement. “Francisco Erwin Galicia-Chapa and his family must now bear the mental and physical scars of something that never should have happened. We send this letter on their behalf expecting forthright and honest answers so that we may prevent this from happening again.”

The lawmakers wrote to Morgan seeking to clarify statements by Border Patrol chief Brian Hastings, who last month told Congress that Galicia "at no point" told officials he was a U.S. citizen.

"We know this is not the case, not only based on the word of the young man wrongfully detained, but also because the charging documents subscribed to by Acting Patrol Agent In Charge Sherman Kemp, signed June 29, 2019 indicate otherwise," wrote the lawmakers.

In their letter, the lawmakers sent a list of questions for Morgan to answer, both on Galicia's particular case, and on which documents immigration enforcement agents will validate as proof of citizenship or legal status.

"It is critical that CBP answer our questions and conduct a thorough review of the agency policies that allow U.S. citizens to be detained for weeks without any recourse,” said Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chairman Joaquin CastroJoaquin CastroLawmakers argue for national Latino museum The Hill's Campaign Report: Impeachment fight to take center stage at Dem debate The Hill's Campaign Report: Warren, Sanders overtake Biden in third-quarter fundraising MORE (D-Texas) in a statement.

The CBP did not immediately reply to a request for comment from The Hill.