When a 9-year-old American citizen tried to cross the border, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials apprehended her, kept her in an isolated room, and grilled her with questions for 30 hours while they tried to see if she was telling the truth or not. She was.
All the confusion happened because the 9-year-old girl named Julia Isabel Amparo Medina, who holds a United States passport, walked across the border with her sibling and two friends, while their parents waited with their cars at the long traffic line.
Julia’s mother Thelma Galaxia was with a friend Michelle Cardenas, and they were returning to the United States from Tijuana from where they live so they can attend school at Nicoloff Elementary School.
Because the line at the border had become so long, Thelma suggested that Julia and her 14-year-old brother Oscar Amparo Medina, and Michelle’s two children, walk across the border and catch an Uber to school so they wouldn’t be late to class. It was 4 am.
However, as soon as Border Patrol saw Julia, they were alarmed. They detained her and her brother Oscar for more than a day, grilling them with questions about their citizenship.
Border Patrol even accused 9-year-old Julia of being another person because they didn’t think she resembled the passport photo.
CBP claimed the child “provided inconsistent information during her inspection.”
That’s why CBP officers locked her up “to perform due diligence in confirming her identity and citizenship.”
After the fiasco was made public, CBP sent their public affairs officer Jackie Wasiluk to release a statement to NBC 7 in San Diego. They were frantically trying to clean up the mess.
“It’s important that CBP officials positively confirm the identity of a child traveling without a parent or legal guardian,” Jackie said.
That being said, Julia and her brother missed class two days in a row. Their mother was frantic to find them.
After the nightmare ended, Julia showed NBC her passport which has a picture of her when she was younger – hence the confusion.
When NBC asked why CBP spent 32 hours trying to confirm the 9-year-old’s identity, they went silen.t
“Some specifics of our techniques for determining the true identity of a person crossing the border are law enforcement sensitive information,” Wasiluk said. “In addition, some details of this case are restricted from release due to privacy concerns.”
Not only was Julia detained for more than a day, but her brother was also accused of being a smuggler. They also accused him of other crimes that he did not understand. But that didn’t stop them from holding him without adequately explaining their concerns.
“My daughter told her brother that the officer told her that if she admitted that she was her cousin, she would be released soon so she could see her mom,” Thelma said.
Julia refused to lie to CBP.
The little girl said, “I was scared. I was sad because I didn’t have my mom or my brother. I was completely by myself.”
CBP then forced Oscar to sign a document claiming that Julia was not his sister. The entire situation was confusing and wrong.
Things need to improve.