Judge in Trump set­tle­ment as­signed to de­por­ta­tion case

Sun Sentinel Broward Edition - - NATION & WORLD - By El­liot Sp­a­gat

SAN DIEGO — A case in­volv­ing a 23-year-old man who was de­ported to Mex­ico de­spite hav­ing per­mis­sion to be in the U.S. un­der a pro­gram that shields young im­mi­grants has landed in the court­room of a judge whose im­par­tial­ity was ques­tioned by Don­ald Trump dur­ing the pres­i­den­tial cam­paign be­cause of his Mex­i­can her­itage.

U.S. Dis­trict Judge Gon­zalo Curiel in San Diego was as­signed the case of Juan Manuel Montes, whose at­tor­neys say could be the first known per­son de­ported by the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion who had qual­i­fied for the De­ferred Ac­tion for Child­hood Ar­rivals pro­gram.

Montes sued Tues­day for ac­cess to records on his de­por­ta­tion.

The law­suit came less than a month af­ter Curiel ap­proved a $25 mil­lion set­tle­ment in a case al­leg­ing the now-de­funct Trump Univer­sity mis­led cus­tomers.

Trump re­peat­edly crit­i­cized the In­di­ana-born judge dur­ing the cam­paign, in­sin­u­at­ing that his Mex­i­can her­itage ex­posed a bias in the case be­cause of Trump’s tough line on il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion.

The Depart­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity said Wed­nes­day that Montes was en­ti­tled to be in the U.S. un­til early next year un­der DACA, re­vers­ing its po­si­tion a day ear­lier that his sta­tus had ex­pired in Au­gust 2015 and wasn’t re­newed.

The agency said Montes ac­knowl­edged un­der oath that he had en­tered the coun­try il­le­gally Feb. 19, re­sult­ing in his loss of sta­tus be­cause it was an ad­mis­sion that he had left with­out the re­quired per­mis­sion.

The case may help de­fine Trump’s ap­proach to DACA, which was in­tro­duced in 2012 by Pres­i­dent Barack Obama. Trump has kept it in place and made sym­pa­thetic re­marks about its ben­e­fi­cia­ries, an­ger­ing some im­mi­gra­tion hard­lin­ers.

Even af­ter its lat­est state­ment, Home­land Se­cu­rity’s ac­count dif­fered fromwhat Montes’ at­tor­neys say hap­pened.

The at­tor­neys said in the law­suit filed in the South­ern Dis­trict of Cal­i­for­nia that their client left the coun­try Feb. 17 only be­cause he was stopped by a law en­force­ment of­fi­cial and asked for iden­ti­fi­ca­tion while walk­ing to a taxi stand in Calex­ico, Calif., about 120 miles east of San Diego.

He was asked to sign doc­u­ments with­out be­ing given copies or an op­por­tu­nity to see an im­mi­gra­tion judge.

Af­ter get­ting as­saulted in the Mex­i­can bor­der city of Mex­i­cali, Montes re­turned to the United States two days later and turned him­self over to au­thor­i­ties, ac­cord­ing to the law­suit. He was again asked to sign doc­u­ments, not pro­vided copies and re­turned to Mex­ico.

Home­land Se­cu­rity said Wed­nes­day that the Bor­der Pa­trol had no record of the ini­tial en­counter in Calex­ico and that Montes had left the United States on an un­known date. The Bor­der Pa­trol ar­rested him af­ter he climbed over a bor­der fence in the Cal­i­for­nia bor­der town of about 40,000 peo­ple.

The Na­tional Im­mi­gra­tion Law Cen­ter, which rep­re­sents Montes, stood by its ac­count. Its law­suit seeks records on why their client was de­ported, al­leg­ing that im­mi­gra­tion of­fi­cials vi­o­lated the Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion Act for fail­ure tore­spond­toits re­quest be­yond ac­knowl­edg­ing re­ceipt.

Montes, who­cameto the United States when he was 9, grad­u­ated from high school in 2013 and pur­sued a weld­ing de­gree at com­mu­nity col­lege, ac­cord­ing to the law­suit. He then worked two years pick­ing crops in Cal­i­for­nia and Arizona.

Montes’ at­tor­neys say their client qual­i­fied for DACAin 2014and re­newed his sta­tus for two years in 2016. He is in­Mex­ico.

Home­land Se­cu­rity said Montes was con­victed of shoplift­ing in July 2016.

His lawyers ac­knowl­edged in the law­suit that he had a mis­de­meanor on his record and “mi­nor traf­fic of­fenses,” none of which would have dis­qual­i­fied him fromDACA.

The gov­ern­ment has is­sued nearly 800,000DACA per­mits since Obama in­tro­duced the pro­gram in 2012 and nearly 700,000 re­newals.


Juan Manuel Montes, 23, filed a law­suit this week to gain ac­cess to U.S. records on his de­por­ta­tion to Mex­ico.

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