Oh yeah, you were BORN IN EAST L.A.

Let’s see your green card

Huh? Green card?

I’m from East LA

– Cheech & Chong

In response to the allegations of sexual assault made against Brett Kavanaugh, Trump declared that “a man or woman must always be presumed innocent unless, and until, proven guilty.” While this is true in a court of law, the alleged victims of the Supreme Court nominee were not presenting their case before a jury of their peers but to the United States Senate. Instead of trying to decide if Kavanaugh would maintain his freedom they were passing judgment on his suitability for a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court of the United States

Compare this to the case of 18-year-old Francisco Erwin Galicia, who was held in government custody for 23 days after the government alleged that he “falsely represented [himself] to be a citizen of the United States for the purpose of furthering [his] entry into the United States.” Galicia alleges that customs agents refused to allow him to make a phone call telling him that “You don’t have rights to anything.” He says that during his detention, he was not allowed to shower and that he lost 26 pounds because he was not provided with enough food. “It was inhumane how they treated us”, he says of the time spent in custody, sleeping on the floor in a room with 60 other men.

Trump and his supporters would have us believe that Galicia and others like him brought this situation upon themselves. If he had not crossed the border illegally, then he would not have been put in a position where he lost his freedom for over three weeks. Those who speak out against the “appalling conditions” in which they are kept are accused of being unpatriotic and supportive of open borders. According to Trump “Many of these illegal aliens are living far better now than where they” came from, “and in far safer conditions.

However, the reality is that Galicia “came from” the United States. He was born at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas and is, therefore, an American citizen. Despite being provided with his birth certificate, a high school ID, health insurance and a Texas ID that can only be obtained by providing a Social Security number, he was deprived of the due process rights guaranteed to him under the Constitution.

Galicia’s case is not unique.

Peter Sean Brown was born in Philadelphia but that did not stop ICE from flagging him for deportation to Jamaica – “a country where he has never lived and knows no one.” He spent weeks in custody as police ignored their own records which showed his actual citizenship and birthplace while holding him for transfer to ICE. When federal officials finally looked at his birth certificate, they quickly released him.

That fact that Julia Medina is a nine-year-old and presented her passport showing that she is an American citizen did not stop Customs and Border Patrol from detaining her for 32 hours. During this time, they questioned her without her parents being present. They also tried to get her 14-year-old brother, who is also an American citizen, to “sign a paper saying that his sister was really his cousin” as they tried to build a case of sex trafficking against him.

Trump and his supporters pretend that their crackdown on the undocumented and asylum seekers is about enforcing the rule of law. However, they have done so in a way that violated the due process rights of these four Americans. These cases show just how little compliance with the law means to this administration.

In each of these cases, the victims could easily prove that they were American citizens but Trump’s “Justice” Department could not see beyond the color of their skin and they were imprisoned without cause. As a white man, there is not a situation where my citizenship would have ever been questioned. I will never be detained for speaking my native language in public. That is the very definition of institutionalized bigotry, and that bigotry is flowing from the top:


Carl Petersen is a parent and special education advocate, elected member of the Northridge East Neighborhood Council and was a Green Party candidate in LAUSD’s District 2 School Board race. During the campaign, he was endorsed by Network for Public Education (NPE) Action and Dr. Diane Ravitch called him a “strong supporter of public schools.” His past blogs can be found at www.ChangeTheLAUSD.com. Opinions are his own.