This Man's Deportation Is Testing Trump's Murky Stance On DACA By Tal Kopan

CNN/ Newswire | 4/21/2017, 11 a.m.
A dispute over whether the US government deported an undocumented immigrant with protected status heated up Wednesday, as the Department ...
Donald Trump

By Tal Kopan

A dispute over whether the US government deported an undocumented immigrant with protected status heated up Wednesday, as the Department of Homeland Security released further details about the case.

Lawyers for the man now in Mexico say their client was apprehended by Border Patrol and deported on February 18. DHS said Wednesday that never happened.

In a lawsuit released Tuesday, lawyers for Juan Manuel Montes Bojorquez allege that the 23-year-old was deported from California to Mexico on February 18, despite having active protection under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

Lawyers claim that Montes had renewed his DACA status, a protection for undocumented immigrants who were brought to the US as children initiated under the Obama administration, in 2016, which would keep him protected until 2018, according to the lawsuit filed under the Freedom of Information Act.

The case has put in sharp focus the murky position of the Trump administration on DACA. DHS has continued issuing the permits, though Trump pledged to end the program during the 2016 campaign.

While the administration has said that it respects DACA and that no one with active status would be deported, advocates are using the case to call into question whether DHS is being honest about its position.

The case

While DHS initially said Tuesday they had a record of Montes' DACA expiring in 2015, they released further information Wednesday saying he did, in fact, have DACA status until 2018.

The problem, though, is on the part of the story both sides agree on: Montes tried to sneak back into the US on February 19 and was caught by Border Patrol. DACA requires individuals to get pre-clearance to leave the country, and so Montes' re-entry then showed he had left without authorization and voided his status, DHS said.

"Mr. Montes-Bojorquez lost his DACA status when he left the United States without advanced parole on an unknown date prior to his arrest by the US Border Patrol on Feb. 19, 2017," said DHS spokeswoman Jenny Burke in a statement. "According to his interview with the Border Patrol, conducted in Spanish, he entered the United States on February 19, 2017, and he acknowledged that he understood the questions that he was being asked. Departing the country without advanced parole terminates the protections Montes-Bojorquez was granted under DACA."

Montes' attorneys, however, said they stand behind his account of the story.

"Juan Manuel has been unequivocal in his assertion that he never voluntarily left the country while he had DACA. We believe him," said Nora Preciado, a staff attorney with the National Immigration Law Center and co-counsel on the case. "We filed a FOIA lawsuit to get answers."