Lawyer: US-Born Teen Lost 26 Pounds While Detained By Border Patrol For Weeks

Migrants are gathered inside the fence of a makeshift detention center in El Paso, Texas on Wed. March 27, 2019. Border Patrol in El Paso is saying that they are overwhelmed with unprecedented number of migrants at o... Migrants are gathered inside the fence of a makeshift detention center in El Paso, Texas on Wed. March 27, 2019. Border Patrol in El Paso is saying that they are overwhelmed with unprecedented number of migrants at over 12,000 currently in custody. Kevin McAleenan, the commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection is calling the situation at the El Paso border a "crisis" and asking for Congressional assistance. (Photo by Sergio Flores for The Washington Post via Getty Images) MORE LESS

18-year-old Francisco Erwin Galicia, who was born in Texas, said he experienced firsthand the appalling conditions at the migrant detention facilities while border officials detained him for more than three weeks.

Claudia Galan, Galicia’s lawyer, confirmed to TPM that her client had lost 26 pounds due to poor nutrition while being held under the custody of the Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement agencies.

Immigration agents kept Galicia in the crowded migrant holding facility for 23 days despite Galan’s attempt to show officers the teen’s birth certificate. He was finally released on Tuesday.

Galan credits her client’s release to the advocacy group One Michigan for Immigrant Rights after the organization spread the word on Galicia’s situation.

“Without their grassroots efforts, Francisco would have continued to be held by ICE,” she told TPM.

According to Galan, neither CBP nor ICE have issued an apology to Galicia.

The attorney also said Congress needs to act.

“My client’s situation is not an isolated incident. His story going on national media needs to pressure Congress to take action on a policy to put accountability on how the Department of Homeland security operates,” Galan said. “I hope to see the Hispanic Caucus take a stand to put a stop to the racial profiling that is clearly being practiced by CBP and ICE.”

“It’s one thing to see these conditions on TV and in the news. It’s another to go through them,” Galicia told the Dallas Morning News.

When TPM first reached out to the CBP for comment on Galicia’s detainment, the agency and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement unit released a joint statement on Wednesday defending their agents’ actions.

“Generally, situations including conflicting reports from the individual and multiple birth certificates can, and should, take more time to verify,” the statement read. “While we continue to research the facts of the situation, this 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.”

CBP did not respond to requests for comment on Thursday regarding Galicia’s experience at the detention center.

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