In the first documented case of its kind, a young DACA recipient has filed a lawsuit against the government after he says he was deported from the US before he was able to prove his legal status, USA Today reports.
Juan Manuel Montes, 23, claims he had a right to remain in the States as a DREAMer—one of 750,000 kids who came to the US illegally as children but were granted legal status under Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Under the program, recipients can receive two-year work permits on a renewable basis, a permit Montes said he held at the time he was booted from the country. He's asking the government to hand over critical information about the night he was deported—records the Department of Homeland Security says don't exist.
Though President Trump vowed to "show great heart" toward DACA recipients, Montes's legal team says his administration has now deported one for the first time, and pretty brutally.
They claim Montes was walking to a taxi stand in Calexico, California, on February 17 when he was stopped by a Border Patrol agent who asked him for ID. Montes said he'd left it in a friend's car, but swore he lived in the US legally as a DREAMer. Regardless, immigration officials allegedly tossed him in a squad car, drove him to the station, and then walked him across the border to Mexico—all within the span of a few hours. Montes claims he never saw a lawyer, was never given a reason, and never got a chance to search for his work permit, according to the lawsuit.
Homeland Security, however, says that incident never happened, admitting only that agents deported Montes on February 19 after he tried to enter the US from Mexico, which Montes admitted to doing a few days after he claims he was sent back. DHS claims that it notified him then that his DACA status had expired back in 2015. Montes's lawyers argue that he renewed his status in 2016, which doesn't expire until 2018.
Although DACA recipients can be removed from the country if they've committed serious crimes, Montes's lawyer, Marielena Hincapié, told the New York Times he only had a few minor traffic violations and a misdemeanor for shoplifting—which she says wouldn't make him eligible for deportation.
Though Montes would be the first DACA recipient to actually be deported from the country, the government has already targeted a number of DREAMers. Daniel Ramirez Medina just regained legal status after he was arrested in Washington in February, and in March, Daniela Vargas was detained for a week after speaking out about immigration at a news conference in Mississippi.
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