PEARSALL, Texas - A Texas teen who is a U.S. citizen was released on Tuesday after being detained for nearly a month due to a mix-up of his documents, according to his attorney.
Francisco Erwin Galicia, 18, of Edinburg, Texas, was being held in U.S. Immigration and Customs’ South Texas Detention Facility in Pearsall, Texas, but has left. He was born in Dallas on Dec. 24, 2000, the Dallas Morning-News reported.
Galicia’s attorney Claudia Galan, confirmed that he had been released less than a day after the paper’s reporting about his case drew national attention.
"The first thing he said to me was, 'Mommy, they let me go. I'm free,'" the teen's mother Sanjuana Galicia told the Morning-News by phone.
“I’m happy to report my client is free now!” Galan wrote in a Facebook post that included a picture of Francisco. She said he is “happy to be out.”
The high school senior was driving with his brother and friends on a road trip to Ranger College in North Texas for a college soccer team tryout on June 27, according to the Washington Post and Morning-News.
Then, they were stopped at a Border Patrol checkpoint in Falfurrias, Texas, Galan told the Post. Francisco showed a wallet-sized Texas birth certificate, a Texas ID card and a Social Security card, according to Galan.
But U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which oversees the Border Patrol, detained Francisco over suspicion that his documents were fraudulent, she said.
“He’s been here all his life,” Galan told the paper, but “when Border Patrol checked his documents, they just didn’t believe they were real. They kept telling him they were fake.”
Francisco was transferred to ICE’s custody on Saturday, the Morning-News reported.
His 17-year-old brother Marlon was born in Mexico and has no legal status, the Post reported. He was inside the car, the Post reported. Marlon was deported voluntarily within two days.
The documents mix-up also stemmed from Francisco’s mother, Sanjuana, who is undocumented. She took out a U.S. tourist visa in her son’s name while he was still a minor, falsely saying that he was born in Mexico, the paper reported. Sanjuana told the Post that CBP discovered the visa after fingerprinting her son.
Galan said the conflicting documents fueled the agency’s suspicion that Francisco’s U.S. documents were fraudulent.
Sanjuana said she took out the tourist visa for her son because she viewed it as the only way he could travel across the border to visit family, according to the paper. She was unable to get her son a U.S. passport because when Francisco was born, she gave a different name for herself on his birth certificate, Galan told the Post.
Francisco had still previously been detained after he explained his mother’s error to CBP authorities and faxing additional paperwork to corroborate his U.S. citizenship, Galan said.
Prior to Francisco’s release, Galan had planned on presenting Galicia’s birth certificate and other documents to ICE officers later this week, according to the Morning-News.
Galan drove Tuesday to the detention center in Pearsall to secure his release.
ICE and CBP issued a joint statement regarding Francisco's case.
“This individual provided conflicting reports regarding status of citizenship after being apprehended by U.S. Border Patrol and transferred into Immigration and Customs Enforcement Custody. Situations including conflicting reports from the individual and multiple birth certificates can, and should, take more time to verify. While we continue to research the facts of the situation, the individual has been released from ICE custody. Both CBP and ICE are committed to the fair treatment of migrants in our custody and continue to take appropriate steps to verify all facts of this situation,” the statement said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report. This story was reported in Los Angeles.