An undocumented immigrant who was supposed to be protected from deportation by an Obama-era policy has been sent back to Mexico, in what seems to be the first recorded case of its kind under the Trump administration, USA Today reported.
On the evening of February 17, Juan Manuel Montes Bojorquez was stopped by a U.S. Customs and Border Protection agent as he was walking to a taxi station. The 23-year-old said that when he was asked to provide identification, he realized he had accidentally left his wallet in a friend’s car. Therefore, he was unable to show the agents he was protected under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which allows him to live in the U.S. legally.
About three hours later, he was deported to Mexico.
Lawyers and advocates say that Montes is the first undocumented immigrant protected by DACA who has been sent back to his country of origin under the Trump administration.
About 750,000 undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children are currently protected by the program. DACA gives these DREAMers a two-year work permit, a Social Security number, and exempts them from deportation.
Montes has lived in the U.S. since he was 9 years old. According to The Washington Post, he first applied for a DACA permit in 2014 and renewed it in 2016, which should have protected him until 2018.
According to news reports, he tried to illegally re-enter the country two days after being deported. A spokesperson for the Department of Homeland Security confirmed Montes' deportation in a statement to NPR, but didn't provide further details.
"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," the statement reads. "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 August 2015 and he was notified at that time. In addition, he has a conviction for theft for which he received probation."
But even though the DHS said Montes hadn't renewed his permit, his lawyers provided to USA Today a copy of his employment authorization document, which is only given to DACA recipients. The permit showed that his DACA status is valid until 2018.
There's been fear among undocumented immigrants that they could be targeted for deportation, and it's not unfounded. The Washington Post reported that the number of undocumented people with no criminal record who have been arrested by ICE more than doubled since Trump's inauguration.
In mid-March, Daniel Rivera Medina, a 24-year-old with a DACA permit, was arrested in Tacoma, WA. Immigration authorities said he was allegedly affiliated to a gang. (DACAmented immigrants have to pass background checks in order to get their permits.) Then, in early March, Daniela Vargas, a 22-year-old DREAMer was arrested after giving a press conference in Jackson, MI, and was set to be deported. Both Rivera Medina and Vargas were eventually released by ICE, but it still left an impression on the undocumented community.
President Trump originally had promised to end DACA during his first 100 days in office. But since his "Person of the Year" interview with Time, he has shifted gears. At that point he said that he planned on "working out something," but that it was also a "tough situation."
In late January, he said that he planned to deal with the program with "a lot of heart" during an interview with Fox & Friends. He repeated the sentiment when he spoke with ABC's David Muir during his first TV interview since assuming office.
"They shouldn't be very worried. I do have a big heart. We’re going to take care of everybody," Trump said. "But I will tell you, we’re looking at this, the whole immigration situation, we’re looking at it with great heart."
Montes' lawyers filed a lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act on Tuesday, requesting that the federal government provide all the information available about his deportation.
"Some people told me that they were going to deport me. Others said nothing would happen," Montes told USA Today. "I thought that if I kept my nose clean nothing would happen."
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