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Deported Dreamer Returns to Fight Back

Months before the White House announced the end to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, Juan Manuel Montes Bojorquez says he was deported to Mexico despite having been granted protection under DACA.

Montes is the First Known Deported Dreamer

Montes, who is 23 years old and has lived in the United States since he was nine, says he spent an evening in mid-February with a friend in the border city of Calexico, California, and that, after dinner, he was approached and questioned by a U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer. Montes advised the officer of his DACA status, but had left his wallet in a friend’s car, so couldn’t provide proof of status. Agents wouldn’t allow him to retrieve his documentation, and within hours he had become the first active Dreamer to be deported.

The Department of Homeland Security insists that Montes wasn’t deported. Instead, the government argues, Montes voluntarily crossed the border into Mexico, forfeiting DACA protection. However, the government has not been responsive to requests from Montes’s attorney for information about exactly what happened that night.

Montes’s Attempted Return to the U.S.

Though Montes and the government tell different stories about what happened on the night in question, they agree on what happened a day or two later. Montes was caught attempting to re-enter the United States, and was deported back to Mexico.

Deported Dreamer Fights Back with Lawsuit Against U.S. Customs and Border Patrol

Following his second removal from the U.S., Montes—through his immigration lawyer—filed a Freedom of Information Act request and wrote to the Calexico Port of Entry Director seeking information that would explain the reason for Montes’s initial deportation. When neither Montes nor his counsel received any response, they filed suit against the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, asking for evidence of what transpired that night, such as surveillance tapes, patrol logs, and information regarding agents on duty that night.

After the federal judge presiding over that case said he wanted to hear directly from Montes, the Department of Homeland Security agreed to allow the deported Dreamer to re-enter the country to participate in the court proceedings.

Another Dreamer Detained

Montes is the only protected Dreamer known to have actually been deported, but he isn’t the only one facing difficulties. For example, Riccy Enriquez Perdomo was arrested by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials who mistakenly believed—or claimed to believe—that her DACA protection had expired.

The 22-year-old mother of two, who has been in the U.S. since the age of nine, was released after “further investigation” revealed that her DACA status had been renewed several months earlier. That investigation took seven days, during which time the suburban housewife was shifted across three states and spent time in five different federal prisons.

Even as eligible immigrants rush to submit DACA renewal applications ahead of the October deadline, these such incidents have raised concerns among Dreamers and immigration advocates about how reliable DACA protections are under the Trump administration.

Depositions in the Montes case are scheduled for October. Meanwhile, the clock is ticking on the DACA program, as members of Congress disagree about a legislative replacement.