A young man brought to this country by his parents and granted protection from deportation under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program is back in his native Mexico after being deported by U.S. officials in February, according to the National Immigration Law Center.
The center has released a statement saying Juan Manuel Montes is suing the U.S. government for documents explaining why he was deported. "Juan Manuel was funneled across the border without so much as a piece of paper to explain why or how," said attorney Nora A. Preciado.
Montes, 23, is believed to be the first DACA recipient to be deported despite suggestions by President Trump that he would show compassion to the so-called DREAMers and had backed away from campaign promises to end the program initiated under President Barack Obama.
Established in 2012, DACA covers some 750,000 young people brought to the United State as children. It grants them renewable two-year periods to stay, during which time they can study and work, if they keep out of trouble.
Montes' suit says he came to this country when he was 9 years old and had been visiting a friend in Calexico, Calif., in mid-February and walking toward a taxi stand when he was approached by an officer from U.S. Customs and Border Protection who asked him for identification.
Montes said he had left his California identification card and his employment authorization document in a friend's car. Unable to verify that he was covered by DACA, Montes was detained, questioned and asked to sign certain documents. Within three hours he was escorted to the border and left in Mexicali, Mexico.
Montes, who had twice been granted protection from deportation under DACA, filed the lawsuit against U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. The suit, brought under the Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA, alleges that the government has ignored all requests for information about Montes' deportation. According to the lawsuit, Montes unsuccessfully attempted to re-enter the U.S. a few days later.
NPR asked Customs and Border Protection for confirmation that Montes had been expelled, and a spokesman sent the following statement:
"Juan Manuel Montes Bojorquez was apprehended by the Calexico Station Border Patrol after illegally entering the U.S. by climbing over the fence in downtown Calexico. He was arrested by BP just minutes after he made his illegal entry and admitted under oath during the arrest interview that he had entered illegally.
"His DACA status expired in Aug. 2015 and he was notified at that time.
"In addition, he has a conviction for theft for which he received probation."
The Montes case comes amid growing anxiety among DACA recipients.
In a February news conference, Trump was asked what he planned to do about DACA. He said, "We're going to show great heart. DACA is a very, very difficult subject for me, I will tell you. To me, it's one of the most difficult subjects I have because you have these incredible kids."
But DACA recipients haven't escaped the new administration's crackdown on illegal immigration. In March, 22-year-old Daniela Vargas of Mississippi was detained for two weeks after speaking out in a news conference against her father's detention. In February, 23-year-old Daniel Ramirez Martinez of Seattle was detained for more than six weeks after he was picked up in a raid that targeted his father.
In a March 9 tweet, Immigration and Customs Enforcement said "DACA is not a protected legal status, but active DACA recipients are typically a lower level enforcement priority."