UPDATE 2 — 4/20, 9:51 a.m. EDT: AP is reporting the Department of Homeland Security has acknowledged one Juan Manuel Montes was enrolled in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, entitling him to legal status in the U.S. until Jan. 25, 2018.
Montes, who is currently in Mexico after being recently deported, was convicted of shoplifting in July 2016, but lawyers representing the 23-year-old say a misdemeanor should not disqualify him from DACA.
UPDATE — 4/20, 9:04 a.m. EDT: The federal judge who handled a lawsuit involving Trump University in 2016 has been assigned to Juan Manuel Montes’ deportation case in San Diego.
Judge Gonzalo Curiel, whose impartiality was questioned by Donald Trump himself due to the former’s Mexican background, will oversee a lawsuit brought by Montes, who is seeking to obtain his deportation records.
In March, Curiel approved a $25 million settlement in the Trump University case on allegations plaintiffs were defrauded.
The first immigrant “DREAMer” has been deported back to Mexico after encountering a U.S. Customs and Border Protection official in California.
Juan Manuel Montes, 23, had protected status under President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), protection that President Trump has not withdrawn. Montes was detained and deported after he was unable to immediately provide identification to a border agent who approached him outside a restaurant in early February.
Montes told the agent he left his wallet in his friend’s car, but was deported back to Mexico three hours later.
DACA gives temporary protection to immigrants who came to the United States as children. Montes arrived in the country illegally at nine years old.
President Trump has declined to rescind DACA thus far, calling the issue “difficult.”
“The DACA situation is a very difficult thing for me as I love these kids, I love kids, I have kids and grand kids and I find it very, very hard doing what the law says exactly to do and, you know, the law is rough,” Trump said. “It’s rough, very very rough.”
Regardless of the current law, border agents have certainly taken more leeway on deportations after Trump was inaugurated. However, the deportation of Montes signals a new willingness to disregard DACA.
After Montes was deported, he said he was beaten and mugged in Mexico. Desperate to get back to the U.S., he attempted to cross back over and was caught and deported again.
According to USA Today, the Department of Homeland Security says it does not have a record of the initial deportation, only of the attempted crossing.
“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,” said a DHS spokeswoman.
Reaction to the news mostly fell, as expected, along party lines.
House Minority Speaker Nancy Pelosi called Montes’ case “another promise cruelly broken by President Trump.” Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) posted a picture of him saluting the news with a beer.
— Steve King (@SteveKingIA) April 18, 2017
[USA Today] [The Hill] [Huffington Post] [KCCI 8 News Des Moines] [AP] [Photo courtesy Juan Gastelum/National Immigration Law Center via PBS