Uncertainty and tensions are high after the case of Juan Manuel Montes came to the forefront of the news. The 23-year-old was deported to Mexico on February 20th despite his Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) status. DACA was put into place by President Obama and protects 750,000 undocumented people who arrived in the United States as children and grew up in the U.S. Montes is the first DACA protectant to be deported under the Trump administration despite the President’s reassuring remarks about maintaining DACA because of his “big heart.” The controversy of this case lies between what Montes has told his attorneys and what the Department of Homeland Security says happened, or didn’t happen.

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Montes’ story

Montes arrived in the U.S from Mexico when he was 9 years old. He was protected under DACA to remain in the United States and work through 2018, but it wasn’t enough to prevent his deportation to Mexico. Montes claims to have been arrested in Calexico, California on February 17th. After dining with his girlfriend, he waited for a friend to pick him up when he was approached by law enforcement.

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Montes did not have his DACA information with him and was detained, not granted any right to an attorney and somehow his DACA information was not accessed by a computer. Within three hours, Montes was deported to Mexico.

Montes contacted his friends who brought his documents to him in Mexico where he was staying. Montes then embarked on a journey to reenter the U.S. After being mugged and injured he continued, scared but determined, and climbed a border fence on February 19th.

He was arrested for illegal entry in the United States and violation of his DACA terms for leaving the country without authorization. Although Montes was deported on February 17th in a hasty operation, the Department of Homeland Security has no record of this event ever happening. Montes was deported again on February 20th despite his lawyer providing his documented authorization to work in the U.S. He was deported on the basis of violating his DACA terms and entering the country illegally.

Legal action

Montes’ attorneys are suing for details of the February 17th police encounter in federal court. There was no response from DHS until major news organizations began writing pieces about the strange events that occurred between February 17-20. The DHS statement indicates Montes “lost his DACA status when he left the United States without advance parole on an unknown date prior to his arrest by the U.S border patrol on Feb.

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17, 2017.” Montes has filed a legal complaint with the District Court of Southern California for lack of legal documentation for sending him back to Mexico and a Freedom of Information request with border patrol regarding his encounters.

This case is not just strange and interesting, but crucial to other undocumented people who are supposedly protected under DACA. Should these people also have to worry about deportation without explanation?

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The current administration has sent mixed messages regarding DACA to the public. While Trump, Paul Ryan, and John Kelly have all publicly stated those protected by DACA have nothing to worry about, they have also promised tighter immigration laws and criticism of those who question border securities actions. It doesn’t appear to be a priority of the administration. Montes is not idly standing by though: his lawyers intend to get answers from the DHS in court regarding the undocumented incident of February 17th that led to the deportation of a documented man.

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