For months, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has made headlines due to reported conditions in detention centers and immigration raids across the nation. Recently, the story of a U.S. citizen detained by ICE for weeks began making headlines, and following his release, he shared some troubling comments about the alleged conditions individuals face living in these facilities. Spoiler alert: they're not good.
On Wednesday, July 24, 18-year old U.S. citizen Francisco Galicia spoke to The Dallas Morning News about being wrongfully detained by ICE and the conditions he said he experienced in a detention facility in Pearsall, Texas. During the interview, Galicia said that he experienced "inhumane" living conditions and treatment from officers within the facility — to the point he considered agreeing to be deported, just to leave the facility. He said,
It was inhumane how they treated us. It got to the point where I was ready to sign a deportation paper just to not be suffering there anymore. I just needed to get out of there.
Galicia claimed that he wasn't allowed to shower for 23 days during his three-week detention, and that he lost 26 pounds due to the small amount of food he was given. He claimed that the facility where he was kept was so overcrowded that men were sleeping on the floor of the restroom, and some were bitten by pests or were ill, but afraid to ask for a doctor. Galicia was released from ICE and U.S. Custom and Border Protection (CBP) custody on Tuesday, July 23, after being wrongfully detained for more than three weeks. According to Galicia, officials had refused to acknowledge he was a U.S. citizen even after he presented them with his birth certificate and a Texas state I.D., and believed the documents were false.
On July 25, ICE and CBP released a joint statement to Elite Daily in response to Galicia's detention and comments about the detention center. The statement read,
Generally, 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, 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.
While CBP wasn't able to comment on specific cases, the department said it was working diligently to provide hygiene and three meals a day to those detained. CBP leadership has also claimed that facilities and officials were overwhelmed by the number of migrants entering the United States.
For months, there has been controversy surrounding living conditions within ICE detention facilities across the United States. On June 21, The New York Times reported that a detention center in Clint, Texas, did not contain supplies including soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, diapers, or beds, resulting in children wearing dirty diapers for days and detainees not being able to bathe or brush their teeth. In addition, another facility in El Paso, Texas has reportedly faced serious overcrowding issues, with 900 detainees being held in a center meant for 125. Elite Daily reached out to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for comment on these reports at the time, but did not hear back.
In addition to questionable living conditions, migrant detainees have also reportedly faced a series of illnesses within facilities. Over recent months, there have been reports of mumps and serious flu outbreaks among detainees, which led to many individuals being quarantined in detention centers. DHS did not immediately respond to Elite Daily's request for comment on the reports of children's illnesses.
Galicia's detention is likely to have a lasting impact on him, but his comments about conditions within the detention centers could make a huge impact for others.