Trump and Symbolism

Documentation or Deportation

          Though Trump has not invoked policies requiring Hispanic immigrants to wear a physical item displaying their status to the public, he has implemented policies forcing immigrants to carry their proof of residency or risk expedited deportation. In 2017, Trump signed an executive order claiming sanctuary cities were a threat to national security because they comprised of undocumented immigrants. In conjunction with this order, Trump signed an additional executive order in July of 2019, exponentially expanding the power of ICE officers to detain and deport suspected undocumented immigrants.

          The executive order effectively expands ICE’s expedited removal authority. Initially, immigration officers could deport individuals who arrived at the border or crossed the border without legal authorization, if the individuals are apprehended within two weeks of arrival and within 100 miles of a U.S. border. In addition to this, the original policy permitted the deportation of individuals without a hearing with an immigration judge. 

          Following the executive order, immigration authorities are no longer limited geographically, and can conduct arrests anywhere throughout the United States. Furthermore, if an officer suspects an individual of being undocumented, the officer now has the authority to request proof the individual has lived in the U.S. continuously for at least two years. If the individual fails to supply evidence  “to the satisfaction of [the] immigration officer”, the individual will be deported without going before an immigration judge. 

          Immigration advocacy groups and lawyers have responded to these policies by advising all Hispanic immigrants to carry identification regardless of status. Undocumented immigrants are advised to prepare documents demonstrating consistency in the United States. These documents may include: utility bills, shopping receipts, proof of rent, school ID, proof of children’s school, and bank accounts. This requirement for individuals to carry identification and documentation at all times or risk deportation is an act of symbolism. This is due to its application primarily impacting individuals of Hispanic ethnicity, and its representation of these individuals’ classification as a perceived lower status.





U.S. Citizens Detained under Trump

          Below are reports recounting instances in which immigration officers wrongfully arrested and detained American citizens as a result of these immigration policies, as well as illustrates the abhorrent standards of care currently employed in detention centers. The content below illuminates the symbolism of documentation as a means of classifying Hispanic individuals in the negative confines created by the Trump Administration. 

The Dallas Morning News

No shower for 23 days: U.S. citizen says conditions were so bad that he almost self-deported by Obed Manuel

By Obed Manuel

July 24, 2019

Francisco Erwin Galicia, a Dallas-born U.S. citizen, spent 23 days in the custody of U.S. Customs and Border Protection in conditions that made him so desperate he almost opted to self-deport.

Galicia says he lost 26 pounds during that time in a South Texas immigrant detention center because officers didn’t provide him with enough food.He said he wasn’t allowed to shower and his skin was dry and dirty.

He and 60 other men were crammed into an overcrowded holding area where they slept on the floor and were given only aluminum-foil blankets, he said. Some men had to sleep on the restroom area floor.

Ticks bit some of the men and some were very sick, Galicia said. But many were afraid to ask to go to the doctor because CBP officers told them their stay would start over if they did, 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,” he said.

Galicia spoke to The Dallas Morning News on Wednesday, one day after he was released by federal officials who had earlier refused to acknowledge his citizenship when presented with his birth certificate.

CBP and Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials did not respond to Galicia's claims of poor conditions at the CBP holding facility. But the agencies issued a joint statement Wednesday evening addressing their decision to detain him. The explanation came two days after The News first broke the story of his detention and made repeated requests for comment to both agencies.

"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."

For most of the time Galicia was held by federal authorities, he said he lived under conditions that many asylum-seeking immigrants have reportedly faced over the past year, leading to much public outcry from politicians and public figures.

Galicia said he met people from all over: Nicaraguans, Hondurans, Salvadorans, Colombians.

“It’s one thing to see these conditions on TV and in the news. It’s another to go through them,” he said.

Galicia was released Tuesday afternoon from the ICE detention center in Pearsall where he'd been since Saturday. His release came less than 24 hours after The News first reported on his detention. Before Saturday, he'd been held for about three weeks at a CBP facility in Falfurrias, where he reported the squalid conditions.

Galicia’s ordeal began on June 27 when he and his younger brother Marlon Galicia and three friends set out for Ranger College in North Texas from Edinburg where the Galicia family lives.

They were heading to a soccer scouting event where the brothers, who both play defense for the Johnny Economedes High School soccer team, were hoping to land scholarships.

“We’re supposed to graduate from high school next year, and we wanted to do something to secure our education,” Francisco Galicia said.

But the boys had to pass through a CBP checkpoint in Falfurrias, about 50 miles north of Edinburg. It was there that CBP agents asked the group to pull over and asked the passengers their statuses.

Marlon Galicia and another passenger lacked legal status. Francisco Galicia told Border Patrol agents that he was a citizen and presented them with a Texas ID, Social Security card and a wallet-sized birth certificate.

But agents doubted the validity of his documents right away, Galicia said.

Agents then took the brothers and another passenger into custody. They held them at the checkpoint for a day and then moved them to a CBP holding facility, where Francisco hoped he would be allowed a phone call.

“I told them we had rights and asked to make a phone call. But they told us, ‘You don’t have rights to anything’,” Francisco Galicia said.

Two days after they were taken into custody, Marlon, who was born in Mexico, decided to voluntarily deport so that he could tell their mother, Sanjuana Galicia, about Francisco’s situation. He is now in Reynosa, a dangerous border city.

Claudia Galan, Galicia's attorney, told The News that CBPs decision to hold Galicia despite his citizenship was likely tied to the issuance of a visitor's visa that agents found in their records after they scanned his fingerprints.

Galicia’s mother obtained the visa for him when he was a minor and claimed he was born in Mexico.

He didn’t have a U.S. passport because when he was born in Dallas, Sanjuana used a fake name on his birth certificate.

She feared the only way she’d be able to legally travel across the border with her U.S. citizen son was with the visa.

But Galicia says CBP agents doubted the validity of his documents even before he was fingerprinted.

“Powerless. That’s how I felt. How with all this proof that I was giving them could they hold me?” he said.

Galicia says the documents he presented at the CBP checkpoint have not been returned to him.

CBP has not confirmed whether the old visa was why they detained Galicia.

Sanjuana Galicia said she was just glad to have her son home.

“I’m just so thankful to God and to everyone who spoke up about my son’s situation. I’m glad to have him back home, but I need my other son back,” she said.



Border Patrol Detained a 9-Year-Old American Girl on Her Way to School for 32 Hours, It didn’t matter that she had her U.S. passport with her.

By Luke Darby

July 29, 2019

Last Monday, the Dallas Morning News broke the story of Francisco Erwin Galicia, an 18-year-old U.S. citizen who was detained by Customs and Border Protection (CPB), transferred to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and held in custody for nearly three weeks. ICE held Galicia even though he had documents on him that proved he was born in Texas. But by Tuesday afternoon, a little over 24 hours after the Morning News's story came out, Galicia went free.

As the Morning News reports, Galicia's detention "appears to have been a bureaucratic mix up," caused by an application for a Mexican visa to visit the U.S. filled out in his name. Galicia told the paper that he was held with 60 other men and not allowed to shower for the 23 days he was held, and by the time he was released he had lost 26 pounds. "It was inhumane how they treated us," he said. "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."

The broad strokes of Galicia's story, a U.S. citizen held by immigration authorities and threatened with deportation because of paperwork, is shockingly common. Peter Sean Brown, a Philadelphia man with the same name as an immigrant, was held for weeks and nearly deported to Jamaica. Officials weren't swayed by his state-issued IDs that are only available to people with social security numbers. And in March of this year, 9-year-old Julia Medina was detained by CBP for 32 hours despite her being a U.S. citizen.

Though she's an American, Medina's family lives in Tijuana, and they cross the border each morning to get to school. On a Monday morning, CBP detained her and her 14-year-old brother, Oscar, saying she didn't look like the photo in her passport, according to NBC San Diego. CBP said the elementary student, who was questioned without her parents present, "provided inconsistent information during her inspection." The agency reportedly had no explanation for why it took 32 hours to confirm her citizenship and release her, though in that time they accused her brother, who is also a U.S. citizen, of human smuggling and tried to have him sign a document saying his sister was his cousin. Medina was finally released after her mother pleaded with the Mexican consulate to contact U.S. immigration authorities.

In all of these cases, Galicia, Brown, and Medina had paperwork on them that proved they were U.S. citizens when they were apprehended. But clearly that wasn't enough to prevent detention by an administration that views non-white people as suspicious. If a passport isn't enough to prove citizenship, it's not clear what people can do to avoid getting detained by ICE or CBP.


ABC News

Marine veteran was among US citizens detained by ICE, ACLU says

By Laura Romero

December 12, 2019

In 2014, after serving in the Marine Corps for nearly three years, Jilmar Ramos-Gomez returned home to Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he was born and raised, and found himself struggling with post-traumatic stress, not able to adjust to his new life as a civilian.

He says he reached a breaking point when he suffered a psychotic episode on Nov. 21, 2018, and was arrested by the Grand Rapids Police for trespassing on the roof of a local hospital.

Ramos-Gomez was not a patient but went there because he was struggling with his post-traumatic stress, according to Miriam Aukerman, his lawyer and a senior attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union in Michigan.

Following his arrest, Ramos-Gomez was booked into the Kent County Correctional Facility, a jail in Grand Rapids.

An ACLU lawsuit says he was then detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) without probable cause and held in a detention center for three days, despite his having -- and ICE knowing -- that he had multiple means of identification in his possession showing he was a U.S. citizen -- including a REAL ID driver's license and U.S. passport.

A statement later released by ICE says Jilmar Ramos Gomez allegedly told officials he was from a foreign country when he was in custody on Nov. 23, 2018. In its lawsuit, the ACLU asserts, however, that the evidence shows ICE officials had proof of his citizenship before and after they spoke to him.

ICE declined to comment on the case.

Ramos-Gomez is one of some 20,000 U.S. citizens detained by ICE over the past 10 years, according to the Cato Institute. ICE has declined to release any figures.

“There's been a ratcheting up of deportations and arrests by ICE over the last 10 years or so and these types of mistakes are to be expected but are unacceptable,” said Douglas Rivlin, director of communications for America's Voice, an immigrant rights advocacy group. “We expect very high standards from our federal officials but we are not getting the level of accuracy and competence that we need to get from our federal officials.”

The number is higher for lawful permanent residents, according to the Cato Institute. Data released by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, a non-partisan organization that releases information about federal enforcement, show that, between 2008 and 2012, ICE issued detainer requests against 28,000 legal permanent residents.

Since ICE has not released documents or information on any of the detainer requests, the reasons behind issuing them are unknown.

“An LPR can be lawfully detained for removal purposes if they have a criminal conviction that makes them subject to deportation,” said Jennie Paquerella, director of immigrants' rights and senior staff attorney for the ACLU of Southern California. “The problem is that ICE often puts detainers on LPRs who do not have such convictions and sometimes no convictions at all.”

Pasquerella recently won a lawsuit that ruled that ICE's primary deportation program unconstitutional. The lawsuit, called Gonzalez v. ICE, is based on Gerardo Gonzalez, a natural born U.S. citizen who was issued a detainer request by ICE in 2012.

According to the complaint, ICE has subjected more than 2 million people to these unconstitutional arrests since the inception of the program in 2008.

“ICE is doing everything that they possibly can to prevent people who are in their custody from accessing attorneys, even from having their families know where they're being held,” Rivlin said. “It's a very secretive process.”

ICE declined to comment on the process federal officials have to follow when someone is detained. According to its website, facilities follow ICE’s National Detention Standards, which state that only “non-U.S. citizens who are apprehended and determined to need custodial supervision are placed in detention facilities.”

According to the ACLU lawsuit, when he was arrested, Ramos-Gomez not only had his U.S. passport and REAL ID driver's license, but also his Marine Corps identification tags. At the jail in Grand Rapids, the lawsuit says, an off-duty officer with the Grand Rapids Police Department emailed an ICE agent to check on his immigration status after seeing news of his arrest on TV.

The officer claimed he suspected terrorism but emails and exchanges between the GRPD officers and ICE officials published by the ACLU reveal, the group says, that the officer never indicated the issue was urgent or that it involved terrorism. In his email, the lawsuit says, he said only that he was concerned with Ramos’ immigration status.

The email resulted in ICE agents speaking to Ramos-Gomez in the Kent County jail, the ACLU says. And even though the agents reviewed his Real ID driver’s license and a database that listed Ramos’ birthplace as Michigan, the lawsuit says, he was nevertheless then sent to another immigration detention center in Michigan on Dec. 14, because ICE officials still believed he was undocumented.

“He's booked in and he has his REAL ID compliant license that shows he is a veteran and here lawfully,” said Aukerman, his attorney. “And while he's there, he does not get the care that he needs and so his mental health seriously deteriorates.”

When ICE started removal proceedings, the notice charges incorrectly stated that Ramos-Gomez was a Guatemalan citizen who arrived unlawfully in the U.S. While he was born in Michigan, his family is from Guatemala, but in their statement, officials did not provide an explanation for why they indicated he was not a U.S. citizen and, instead, from the Central American country. Before ICE could continue, Ramos-Gomez’s family attorney intervened.

An ICE agent then again reviewed and confirmed Ramos’ citizenship and he was released on Dec. 17, 2018, almost a month after his arrest.

Since his release, Ramos-Gomez says he is still suffering from the trauma of being detained and almost deported.

“If you had a judge who would have looked at this, who would have looked at the police reports and the information that was available, no judge would have signed off on a warrant,” Aukerman said.

Nearly a year after his arrest, the city of Grand Rapids settled a lawsuit brought by Ramos-Gomez, the city commission agreeing to pay him $190,000 for the department's involvement in his detention.

Following the settlement with the city, the ACLU along with attorneys at the Loevy and Loevy law firm filed a lawsuit and a complaint against ICE and the Department of Homeland Security alleging wrongful detainment of the Marine Corps veteran. The ACLU is seeking unspecified compensation for Ramos-Gomez and records pertaining to his detainment and data on other U.S. citizens and lawful residents who have been detained in the hopes this situation from happening to others.

“There needs to be accountability and transparency,” Aukerman said. “It’s unusual for ICE to actually acknowledge responsibility but with the lawsuit, they have a chance to decide whether they want to take responsibility for what they did or whether they want to fight it.”


Last modified: Saturday, 18 Jan 2020, 20:21