Democrats and immigrant-rights groups demanded answers Tuesday after a news report that the first “Dreamer” has been deported by President Trump.
USA Today said Juan Manuel Montes, a 23-year-old Mexican who’d been brought to the U.S. at age nine and who had twice been approved under President Obama’s deportation amnesty, was deported in February after a run-in with a Customs and Border Protection agent in California.
Mr. Montes told the paper that after he was deported he tried to sneak back into the U.S., climbing over the border fence on a rope. He said agents quickly captured and deported him again.
Speaking to USA Today from Mexico, where he was living with an aunt and uncle, Mr. Montes said he was deported Feb. 17 after his encounter with the CBP agent. The agent wouldn’t let him get his wallet, where Mr. Montes said he had proof of his status under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, the official name for Mr. Obama’s deportation amnesty.
The paper reported that Mr. Montes was approved for DACA, and has also won a renewal, which was supposed to have protected him from deportation through 2018.
But CBP’s version of events contradicted Mr. Montes in most respects.
The agency, in a statement Tuesday night, did not mention any initial deportation but did confirm Mr. Montes was nabbed while trying to climb over the border fence in downtown Calexico, California.
“He was arrested by [Border Patrol] just minutes after he made his illegal entry and admitted under oath during the arrest interview that he had entered illegally,” the agency said.
Officials also said he fell out of DACA status in August 2015 and was notified. The agency did not mention any renewal.
CBP also said Mr. Montes had been convicted of theft and had been granted probation for the offense. USA Today reported that he also had three convictions of driving without a license, including one three months ago.
DACA recipients are generally eligible to obtain licenses, so it’s unclear why he was without one.
USA Today asserted that those convictions shouldn’t have been serious enough to cause him to be excluded from the DACA program.
“Juan Montes was the target of abusive law enforcement officers,” said Greisa Martinez, advocacy director at United We Dream, a group that represents the Dreamers who took advantage of Mr. Obama’s amnesty.
They began a #JusticeForJuan campaign designed to bring attention to the case.
Sen. Richard J. Durbin, an Illinois Democrat who’s long been an advocate for Dreamers, demanded Homeland Security explain why Mr. Montes was kicked out of the U.S.
As a whole, Dreamers are the most sympathetic cases in the immigration debate. They were usually brought to the U.S. as children and often don’t know their home countries. Many boast of outstanding academic achievements.
That wasn’t the case for Mr. Montes, who had his share of run-ins with the law.
Still, Mr. Trump has struggled to figure out a policy toward Dreamers. During the presidential campaign he called Mr. Obama’s amnesty policy illegal and vowed to repeal it, but now in office Mr. Trump has reversed course, saying that he would treat Dreamers with heart.
“The Trump Administration is terrorizing patriotic young people who want nothing more than to live, work and contribute to the country they love – the only home they’ve ever known,” said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat.
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