An 18-year-old American citizen says he lost 26 pounds because he wasn't given enough food during the more than three weeks he was wrongfully held by U.S. border agents.
Francisco Erwin Galicia said he wasn't allowed to shower and had to sleep under a foil blanket in a packed holding area.
Back on June 27, Galicia, his brother and friends were headed to North Texas from their home in Edinburg for a soccer scouting event when there were stopped at a U.S. Border Patrol checkpoint.
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Galicia's brother, who is undocumented, was detained along with a friend.
Galacia was also detained by agents who suspected he was in the U.S. illegally, even though he was carrying a Texas state ID.
Border Patrol and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detained him for almost a month.
"I lost around 30 pounds. I lost a lot of weight. We couldn’t shower. We couldn’t shower if we tried. There were no showers. They gave us wipes, though not every day. It was whenever they wanted. It could be three days in between receiving the wipes. We would wipe ourselves with them, but the dirt would not come off. It was so much dirt, the wipes would not function," said Galacia.
He also described sleeping on the floor under a foil blanket surrounded by dozens of other men who were sick and covered in bugs. He says they were given a thermos for water that tasted chlorinated. At meal times, he says they got cheese sandwiches or thin hamburgers.
He was released Tuesday.
Immigration attorney Claudia Galan helped facilitate his release. Though not confirmed by Border Patrol, she believes a visa with false information obtained for Galacia by his mom while he was a minor could have led to the long detainment.
“Because he had that tourist visa listing him as being born in Mexico, that did create some confusion. However, it was no excuse that he was detained. He had a birth certificate on him that he presented at the checkpoint," said Galan.
But according to the Dallas Morning News, a U.S. Border Patrol chief testified before the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday that Galicia never claimed to be a U.S. citizen while he was in custody.
That, however, contradicts a notice to appear in immigration court that states the Department of Homeland Security accused him of falsely claiming to be a U.S. citizen.
Government inspectors have long warned about the squalid conditions inside Border Patrol holding cells.
Galacia says he hopes his story can change conditions he calls inhumane.
"We are all the same in God’s eyes. We are all human beings. They should treat them like human beings, said Galacia.
The agencies said Wednesday that they're investigating and remain "committed to the fair treatment of migrants in our custody."