Tuesday, April 18, 2017

First Protected DREAMer is Deported

Federal Agents ignored President Trump's pledge to protect from Deportation Undocumented Immigrants brought to the United States as Children by sending a young man back to his Native Mexico, the first such documented Case an examination of the new Administration's Immigration Policies shows.

After spending an evening with his girlfriend in Calexico, Calif., on Feb. 17th, Juan Manuel Montes, 23, who has lived in the U.S. since age 9, grabbed a bite and was waiting for a ride when a U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer approached and started asking questions.

Montes was twice granted Deportation Protections under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program created by President Obama and left intact by President Trump.

Montes had left his wallet in a friend's car, so he couldn't produce his ID or Proof of his DACA status and was told by Agents he couldn't retrieve them. Within three hours, he was back in Mexico, becoming the first Undocumented Immigrant with active DACA status Deported by the Trump Administration's stepped-up Deportation Policy.

"Some people told me that they were going to deport me; others said nothing would happen," Montes said in his aunt and uncle's home in Western Mexico where he's been staying. "I thought that if I kept my nose clean nothing would happen."

Since taking office, Trump has followed through on his Campaign Pledge to crack down on Illegal Immigration by signing Executive Orders to step up Enforcement against the estimated 11 million Undocumented Immigrants living in the U.S. The new Policy calls for expanding the criteria for Detaining and Deporting Undocumented Immigrants and Hiring thousands of new Agents.

Yet Trump declined to revoke the DACA Protections Obama had granted to more than 750,000 Undocumented Immigrants, repeatedly saying he had a soft spot for these young people who are leading productive lives and have few, if any, ties to the Countries of their Birth. "They shouldn't be very worried," he told ABC News in January. "I do have a big heart."

Even so, DACA Enrollees are being Targeted by Immigration Authorities. At least 10 are in Federal Custody, according to United We Dream, an Advocacy organization made up of DACA Enrollees and other young Immigrants. The Group's Advocacy Director, Greisa Martinez, who has DACA protection, said Montes' case is proof that people like herself are at risk despite what Trump said. "We've seen Trump and (Department of Homeland Security Secretary) John Kelly say, 'The DACA program is alive and well.' We've seen (House Speaker) Paul Ryan look straight into the eyes of one of our members and say, 'You have nothing to worry about,'" she said. "And then this happens."

Customs and Border Protection said Tuesday it could not discuss Montes' Case because of the Department's Privacy Policy.

A group of Attorneys filed a Lawsuit in Federal Court in California on Tuesday requesting that a Judge force Customs and Border Protection to release details of the Agent's encounter with Montes.

Marielena Hincapié, Executive Director of the National Immigration Law Center, part of Montes' Legal Team, said it has requested information for months but has gotten no response. "Even in this administration, because of Trump's comments about loving these people, the integrity of the government's promises are at stake," Hincapié said. "How does an immigrant family today know that this is not going to happen to them?"

The shy Montes was never a poster child for the DACA program. He wasn't his high school's valedictorian or a prominent Advocate for fellow DREAMers. He suffered a traumatic brain injury as a child that left him with learning disabilities that meant a constant struggle to keep up in school and everyday conversations, according to Hincapié. Despite those challenges, he made it through special education courses and graduated high school in 2013. He started taking welding classes at a Southern California community college and paid for it by picking crops in California and Arizona. He lived with his mother and a younger brother, who was born in the U.S. and, thus, is a citizen. His mother did not want to be named or reveal her immigration status.

Court records show he has four convictions: one for shoplifting in January 2016, and three for driving without a license, most recently three months ago. Those convictions are not serious enough to Disqualify him from DACA Protections, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the Federal Agency that approves DACA applications. Montes received renewed DACA Protections in January 2016, which keeps him enrolled through 2018. That is why Montes was confused when he was approached by the Federal officer in February. "They detained me, they took me to a center, they asked me a lot of questions, and I signed a lot of papers," he said.

Montes said he couldn't understand anything he was signing and was not given any copies. Officers walked him to the U.S.-Mexico Border and released him into Mexicali. There, he found a friend who put him up for the night. He called another friend, who drove across the border to return his wallet and bring fresh clothes. Then things got worse. Montes said he was jumped from behind, mugged and beaten. At that point, he decided he needed to get back home. He saw some people using a rope to climb over a section of the Border wall and joined them. He was quickly captured by Federal Agents, questioned again and Deported again.

Today, Montes has reconnected with his estranged father and works in a Gas Station and a Tortilla mill. But he's counting the days until he can return to the U.S. and continue building his life. "There I worked and studied at the same time. I only had six more months to finish (my studies)," he said. "I liked it there more than here."

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. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) 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 CBP 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 Congressman 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.

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