A 9-Year-Old U.S. Citizen Was Detained At The Border For More Than 30 Hours

by Thea Glassman
Originally Published: 
Image via Scott Olson/Getty

A young girl was detained at the border despite the fact that she was a U.S. citizen

A 9-year-old U.S. citizen was stopped when she was crossing the border on the way to school. She was detained, allegedly accused of lying about her identity, and then wasn’t released for more than thirty hours.

Every weekday, fourth-grader Julia Isabel Amparo Medina makes the commute from her home in Tijuana to her school in San Ysidro, California. She’s one of the roughly 1,000 students who do an early morning trek across the border to get to their classes.

On Monday, traffic was lagging so Medina and her 14-year-old brother Oscar got out of the car and walked across the border. Medina was stopped by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and told that she didn’t look like her passport picture, according to a report from NBC 7 San Diego. She ended up being held for thirty-two hours while CBP verified her information.

So, why did it take more than an entire day to determine that Medina was actually a U.S. citizen? “Some specifics of our techniques for determining the true identity of a person crossing the border are law enforcement sensitive information,” CBP Public Affairs officer Jackie Wasiluk said in a statement. “In addition, some details of this case are restricted from release due to privacy concerns.”

Spokesman Ralph DeSio added to The New York Times that Medina provided “inconsistent information” during her inspection. “C.B.P. officers took the 9-year-old into custody to perform due diligence in confirming her identity and citizenship,” he said. Again, I ask, why did it take thirty-two hours to perform this due diligence?

There were even more deeply troubling details surrounding this situation. Oscar Medina said that the officers told his sister that she would be reunited with her mother if she admitted that she was posing as her cousin. They allegedly made the 14-year-old sign a document that his sister was actually his cousin.

“She is my daughter,” Thelma Galaxia, the children’s mother, told NBC 7. “He was told that he would be taken to jail and they were going to charge him for human trafficking and sex trafficking.”

Meanwhile, Medina said that she woke up multiple times during the night while she was detained. “I was scared,” she told NBC 7. “I was sad because I didn’t have my mom or my brother. I was completely by myself.”

There better be some clear answers as why a 9-year-old was forced into detention for an entire day and night. Accountability, ASAP.

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