Juan Manuel Montes, a 23-year-old DACA recipient, is suing the Trump Administration following his deportation back in February.
Montes was granted permission to stay in the United States under the Obama-era program that protects young immigrants who were brought into the country illegally from deportation.
If his claim holds in court, Montes would be the first person with protected status under DACA to be deported under President Trump. Montes has been in the United States since he was nine years old.
His lawyers filed a lawsuit Tuesday, April 18 demanding information about why he was deported. Montes was deported Feb. 17 without explanation, according to his lawsuit.
“I was forced out because I was nervous and didn’t know what to do or say, but my home is there,” Montes said in a statement.
Under DACA, children who were brought to the country via illegal immigration are allowed to apply for deferred action against deportation. If approved, they remain under protected status for two years provided they act as “good citizens.” DACA status must be renewed every two years.
Montes says he was approved for DACA in 2014 and received a renewal in 2016. His status is protected until 2018, according to Montes’ lawyers.
Montes’ troubles began when he visited a friend in Calexico, a border town in California. He was approached by a Border Patrol agent who asked for identification. Montes did not have ID with him, claiming he left it in a friend’s car.
Montes was taken to a Border Patrol station where, he alleges, he was made to sign documents and not allowed to see an immigration judge or attorney. He was also not given copies of the documents he signed, the lawsuit states. In the middle of the night, he was taken to Mexicali, 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 the immigration law center, said in a statement. “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 a statement late Tuesday, a spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection said Montes was arrested after “illegally entering the U.S. by climbing over the fence in downtown Calexico.”
Montes “admitted under oath during the arrest interview that he had entered illegally,” Ralph DeSio, the agency spokesman, said in the statement.
However, the lawsuit contends that the fence-climbing incident happened separately — days after Montes was initially deported by Border Patrol agents.
DeSio also said Montes’ DACA status expired in August 2015, and that he had been convicted of theft, for which he received probation.
Montes attorney Karen Tumlin said the border protection agency is incorrect and that federal documents show Montes’ DACA was due to expire in 2018. The lawsuit states that Montes has a single misdemeanor offense but that it doesn’t disqualify him from DACA.