A young immigrant who was deported to Mexico earlier this year despite the fact he had protected DACA status has filed a suit against the Trump administration seeking information about his case.
Juan Manuel Montes, 23, filed a complaint Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California, alleging that the government did not provide any documentation explaining the legality of sending him back to Mexico.
Montes has been in the U.S. since he was 9 and had qualified for DACA twice; he was protected until 2018.
“Juan Manuel was funneled across the border without so much as a piece of paper to explain why or how,” stated Nora A. Preciado, a staff attorney at the National Immigration Law Center, (NILC) which put out the statement. “The government shouldn’t treat anyone this way — much less someone who has DACA. No one should have to file a lawsuit to find out what happened to them.”
NILC executive director Marielena Hincapié told NBC News the question is "how is it possible that in the United States of America you can be walking and be stopped by Border Patrol and then disappeared and sent to another country because you don't have your wallet on you?"
In the statement, Montes said he was "forced out" of the U.S. because he did not know what to do or say, "but my home is there," he said. "I miss my job. I miss school...But most of all, I miss my family," he Montes said.
Montes, say his attorneys, has a cognitive disability from a brain injury.
USA Today first reported that Montes was in the border town of Calexico, California visiting his girlfriend on Feb. 17 when he was stopped and asked to show ID. Though he didn't have documentation with him, he told authorities he had DACA status. According to the NILC statement, Border Patrol took him to a local station, was asked to sign papers and then removed to Mexico. According to USA Today, Montes climbed the border fence into the U.S. and was questioned and sent back again to Mexico.
In a statement to NBC News, Customs and Border Patrol spokesperson Ralph A. Desio said, “Juan Manuel Montes Bojorquez was apprehended by the Calexico Station Border Patrol after illegally entering the U.S. by climbing over the fence in downtown Calexico. He was arrested by BP just minutes after he made his illegal entry and admitted under oath during the arrest interview that he had entered illegally."
CBP also said that Montes's DACA status "had expired in Aug. 2015 and he was notified at that time," though Montes's attorneys have shown copies of his work authorization card that showed his DACA status is valid through 2018.
CBP also stated Montes "has a conviction for theft for which he received probation.” But court records showed a misdemeanor for shoplifting, according to his attorneys.
Montes has filed a freedom of information (FOIA) request with Customs and Border Protection asking for records surrounding his case.
Democrats are calling on the administration to provide answers over why Dreamers are being deported.
"Just last month Secretary Kelly promised me that no one with DACA would lose this protection unless they violated the terms of DACA. I intend to hold him to this commitment,” stated Illinois Democratic Senator Dick Durbin.
Javier Gamboa, Hispanic media director for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), said in a statement that “President Trump and every Republican in Congress who promised that no DREAMer would be targeted, let alone be deported, owns this grave moral failure."
Montes's case has rallied immigration advocacy groups around the country.
"It is beyond the pale that border patrol officers are left to make decisions that impact people's lives and future with absolute impunity," said Angélica Salas, from the California-based Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA). "ICE must be reigned in and stopped from grossly violating people's constitutional rights."
Hincapié said that once they get more information from the government they will assess the next legal steps in Montes's case.
But she said the fact that he had to file a FOIA lawsuit "should trouble any American that care about freedom."
Hincapie says the important thing is to get Montes back to his family.
"He belongs home, California is home," she said.