A young California man protected by Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) was deported to Mexico earlier this year, becoming the first DREAMer to be expelled under the Trump administration.
Juan Manuel Montes, 23, was stopped on February 17 while visiting his girlfriend in the border town of Calexico. Authorities asked the man for ID, but he had left his wallet at a friend’s house. Though he didn't have documentation, Montes did tell officials that he had DACA status. Despite this, Border Patrol allegedly took him to a local station where he was asked to sign papers and then dropped off in Mexico. The man was deported a second time after he attempted to climb the border following his initial removal.
"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," said Customs and Border Patrol spokesperson Ralph A. Desio.
The agency stated that Montes’ DACA status expired in Aug. 2015. However, his attorneys have copies of his work authorization card, which shows his status is valid through 2018. CBP also said that Montes "has a conviction for theft for which he received probation." But court records show a misdemeanor for shoplifting, which doesn’t bar him from DACA.
On Tuesday, Montes, backed by the National Immigration Law Center (NILC), filed a lawsuit against the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California, alleging that the government did not provide any documentation explaining the legality of sending him back to Mexico.
"Juan Manuel was funneled across the border without so much as a piece of paper to explain why or how," Nora A. Preciado, a staff attorney at NILC, said. "The government shouldn't treat anyone this way — much less someone who has DACA. No one should have to file a lawsuit to find out what happened to them."
In his statement, Montes noted that he was "forced out" of the country because he did not know what to do or say, "but my home is there.” He is currently staying with his estranged father in Mexico and working at a tortilla mill.
In the U.S, Montes, who has a cognitive disability from a brain injury, was taking welding classes at a Southern California community college, which he paid for by picking crops in California and Arizona.
"There I worked and studied at the same time. I only had six more months to finish (my studies)," he said. "I liked it there more than here."