NOI 22: ICE and the Detention and Deportation of US Citizens

In today's episode we discuss a recent case in the headlines where ICE detained a U.S. citizen high schooler, and then placed him in removal proceedings.

Jacob Tingen: Hello, Nation of Immigrants. Here again today we decided to record a double episode. So this is the first episode I’ve done that’s not been live since we’ve started the podcast but I do hope you enjoy it. We’ll be posting it tomorrow on October 8th. So, this is me from the past talking to the future. I did see an interesting headline that I wanted to discuss, even though it wasn’t one of the immediately current events. But there’s an interesting case happening. And let’s see, it’s about a U.S. citizen that ICE had been trying to deport. His name is, I guess the news report has his name as Francisco Galicia, not a client of mine, but definitely represented now. This is going to be an interesting case. So if you’re listening, wow, U.S. citizens trying to be deported. This is the kinds of things that we want to stop and make sure don’t happen. So, let’s take it away with Nation of Immigrants.

Announcer: You’re listening to Nation of Immigrants.

President Obama: America is a nation of immigrants.

Announcer: A podcast about U.S. immigration law, with your host, Jacob Tingen.

Jacob Tingen: Okay, so the headline I’m looking at is, “Is ICE trying to deport this U.S. citizen? Francisco Galicia remains in limbo 2 months after release.” Now, what’s fascinating here is over the summer, wow, what’s terrifying here is over the summer this poor U.S. citizen high school kid born in Dallas, Texas, was detained and it looks like on June 27th over this summer. And he was detained for 23 days at a border patrol holding facility. During that time, he said he was kept in the [Spanish 00:01:58], which is Spanish term for an icebox, with 60 other men, wasn’t allowed to shower. While he was there and detained, he lost about 26 pounds in 23 days.

Jacob Tingen: So, while Galicia’s situation is unfortunately not unique, not even for U.S. citizens, because I’ll get to this in a bit, but it’s not unique also for people who are detained generally. Every time we talk to people who are detained for even a short period of time. But if they’re detained for more than a week, all of them talk about how hungry they were and how they weren’t really given that much food and how much weight they lost.

Jacob Tingen: So, here’s what happened. This high school kid was stopped and then showed his IDs, which indicated he was a U.S. citizen. But ICE checked their database and decided to arrest him. It seems that his mom had at one point requested some kind of travel document for him that they believed indicated he was not a U.S. citizen, even though he said, “Hey, I’m born in the U.S. I am a U.S. citizen.” I assume he speaks English because he’s been in high school his whole life. I mean, he’s currently, well, in school his whole life and he’s in high school now. So, what’s fascinating here is that even though this kid clearly spoke English, clearly had IDs, clearly had the documentation he needed, said he was a U.S. citizen, they arrested him. And kept him arrested in excess of 20 days. How does this make sense?

Jacob Tingen: Now, I’ve had a client who, once upon a time, told ICE as they busted down the door and arrested other people that were with him and also arrested him. He said, “You can’t arrest me. I’m a U.S. citizen.” In response, an ICE agent said, “That’s what they all say.” And the other officers laughed. Now, this is a problem. This is terrifying. This is not good. If we’re allowing this to happen, again, I keep coming back to this. If we allow this to happen to immigrants, or to people who even just look like immigrants, what’s going to start happening to the rest of the U.S. citizens? How else might the government be armed to take away and violate the rights of the rest of us? So it’s important to watch out for this kind of stuff and say, “Hey, no. No. Immigration enforcement cannot arrest U.S. citizens, even if they look like they might be immigrants,” which appears to be all that this arrest was based on.

Jacob Tingen: Now, I don’t understand. This article doesn’t mention any kind of civil suit for monetary compensation for the time he was held detained. I hope that he files one. Because holy cow, who wants to go 23 days in a border holding facility when they’re a U.S. citizen and lose 26 pounds. Jailed in a small cell with 60 other men and not allowed to shower. But what’s fascinating about this is that when there was apparently a national outcry over the summer before my podcast started, they released him, I believe to prevent liability in the event that it turned out that he is a citizen but they’re keeping him in removal proceedings. And the articles that I’ve read indicate that the family got an attorney for this kid and that that attorney filed his birth certificate, his U.S. citizen birth certificate with the agency. Yet, even though they released him from detention, they still filed paperwork to put him in removal proceedings in our immigration court.

Jacob Tingen: Now, the article mentions that they talked to a couple of deportation experts and that those immigration attorneys indicate that, well, he’s in removal proceedings. So that, in effect, they’re still trying to deport him. Yeah, that’s right. In effect, they still are trying to deport this kid who is a U.S. citizen. Now, thankfully on the case that I described previously, I was able to go into immigration court. We have got good judges at the Arlington Immigration Court generally. I was able to quickly make a case that, “Hey, the person we’re looking at is a U.S. citizen.” And the case was quickly and quietly terminated and that client didn’t want to pursue anything else. Now, that was a good result in that case. I should hope that the same result would happen here. That once there is a hearing set and an immigration attorney can go in with this client and explain to the judge like, “Hey, hello, we’re a citizen. Can we just drop all of this?” Hopefully, that will be a simple process and proceedings will just be quickly and simply dropped.

Jacob Tingen: But there’s no guarantee that that’s the case. There’s no guarantee that who the judge will be or what DHS will do or say or whether they’ll ask for a continuance. Even in my case where I claimed that I had a U.S. citizen, at the first hearing, the client was still detained. They said, “Oh, can you please wait to pay bond?” And I said, “No, we’re going to immediately go and do this because he’s a U.S. citizen and shouldn’t be in jail in the first place.” So, it would be interesting to see what happens in these proceedings. Best of luck to Francisco Galicia and his attorney. This is terrible what’s happened and I hope that you get justice and that your life can get back to normal. The article goes on to talk about how he’s in high school, he plays soccer, it’s his senior year, and he’s got the specter of deportation proceedings over his head.

Jacob Tingen: Now, I want you to take for a minute, just a second. If you are a U.S. citizen and you’re listening to this, if you’ve got a kid in high school and you’re listening to this, I want you to take a minute and just stop and think for just a quick second. What if police arrested my child for a month and didn’t release them? And then when they finally did release them, they put them in some kind of court proceeding that they don’t need to be in, that they should never have been in and that they shouldn’t have been arrested in the first place. Now I want you to just imagine what that must feel like. Because that’s what it’s like for this family and that’s what it’s like for immigrants in a lot of different scenarios and a lot of different situations. Again, that’s why it’s important for us to speak out.

Jacob Tingen: That’s why it’s important for programs like this, for other public awareness initiatives that people are doing, different legal organizations and media organizations and just people getting involved. We need to let people understand that ICE is arresting citizens. Okay? And you might say, “Oh, well, this only happens once in a while and it’s no big deal.” Well, first of all, even if it happens just once, it’s a big deal. Again, if it’s happening to even just one U.S. citizen, or even if it’s just happening to immigrants and their rights are being violated, that’s bad for all of us. So it’s a big deal. And then secondly, it’s happening more than just once or twice. This kind of thing is happening and we just don’t see about it every single time it happens. This time there was a news report. This time, things were so awful that it’s hitting headlines. And yet, these things are happening all the time. We just don’t see it in the news.

Jacob Tingen: So, that’s it for today’s episode of Nation of Immigrants. I hope you are starting to understand as we talk about these issues that even though it’s just immigration law and immigration issues, that it’s actually issues that affect all of us here in the country and that this isn’t good and that we can do better. So again, Nation of Immigrants, you can follow us on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, follow me at where you can also support the podcast and we’ll be sending those funds to help pay for the bills of immigrants who are struggling to make ends meet as they try to defend themselves. And what you now know, if you’ve been listening to this podcast, isn’t the system that we would hope it could be but our clients are doing the best they can. Many immigrants are doing the best they can and we hope to help and support them as much as possible. Thanks again for listening and see you next time.

Announcer: Thank you for listening to Nation of Immigrants.

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