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CBP Detains 9-Year-Old US Citizen For 36 Hours, Accuses Her 14-Year-Old Brother Of Sex Trafficking

Published: March 23, 2019
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Source: Tech Dirt

Today's example of the government's ugliness comes to us courtesy of Customs and Border Protection. There's a crisis at the border if the latest national emergency is to be believed (it isn't), and the only way to stop it is to ramp up enforcement. If this means tossing a 9-year-old American citizen in the clink, so be it.

A mother and her 9-year-old daughter were separated for 36 hours after the child fell into U.S. Customs and Border Protection custody because agents at the border didn't believe she was who she claimed to be, a mother says.

This debacle started the way something like this usually does: with US citizens engaged in activity they engage in every day. In this case, mother Thelma Galaxia's children were being driven from Tijuana to the border crossing in order to attend school in San Ysidro, California. This was the normal state of affairs for her 9-year-old daughter and 14-year-old son.

Traffic was heavy at the crossing so her friend told them to walk across the border to make sure they got to school on time. Both children were questioned by CBP officers. These officers decided 9-year-old Isabel Medina didn't resemble her passport photo. They accused her of actually being her cousin, Melanie.

That wasn't enough for the CBP. It also decided to terrorize her 14-year-old brother, Oscar, by accusing him of being a criminal.

Galaxia said officers made Oscar Medina sign a document that said his little sister was his cousin.

“That is not true,” Galaxia said. “She is my daughter. He was told that he would be taken to jail and they were going to charge him for human trafficking and sex trafficking.”

The intimidated 14-year-old signed the document, thus making the CBP officers technically correct in their assumptions. They now had a paper signed by a human trafficker family member stating that Isabel Medina was actually someone other than the person she actually was.

Galaxia's children might have been detained longer if she hadn't gone to the press. NBC7 reports the Mexican consulate contacted the station while Galaxia was being interviewed by journalists, saying the children were being released to her. Presumably, the station's requests for comment from the involved government agencies got the wheels rolling on her daughter's case. The CBP, meanwhile, has refused to comment on this detention, claiming it's still in the middle of investigating this incident.

It seems like one of the CBP officers might have tried to contact the children's parents to straighten this out. But I guess it's a lot easier to intimidate children into false confessions when there are no other adults around standing up for their rights or contradicting the CBP's assumptions.

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