SAN DIEGO (CN) – A 23-year-old “Dreamer” who was deported despite his legal protections sued the Customs and Immigration services Tuesday for information about why they did it.
Juan Manuel Montes Bojorquez, 23, arrived in the United States when he was 9. He twice was granted deferred action and employment authorization under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA. People who qualify for such protection are known as Dreamers, for the American Dream.
Immigration officials arrested and deported him in the middle of the night on Feb. 17-18 in Calexico as he walked home after seeing a friend. His DACA status and work permit do not expire until 2018. “He was not provided the opportunity to see an immigration judge, seek the assistance of counsel, or otherwise present his DACA paperwork or work authorization before he was removed from the United States,” according to his federal FOIA complaint.
Montes suffered a traumatic brain injury as a child, but nonetheless graduated from a U.S. high school. “To this date, Mr. Montes, who suffers from a cognitive disability and is living in limbo in Mexico, does not know the legal basis for his removal,” the complaint states. Neither the Customs nor Immigration agencies provided him with any documentation or record of his removal, despite repeated requests through counsel. Leaving the United States without advance permission from the government automatically cancels DACA protections.
Montes sued Customs and Border Protection and the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services in Federal Court, seeking records under the Freedom of Information Act.
Despite his crackdown on immigrants, President Donald Trump has said he would keep the DACA program in place.
After being deported, Montes stayed with a friend in Mexicali but was jumped and robbed the very next day and decided to return to the United States. “He hid for about half an hour after crossing into the United States, but when he saw CBP officers he feared for his safety and turned himself in,” according to the complaint.
After searching him and confiscating his phone and his wallet, the Border Patrol officers had him sign papers in English “without explaining the documents’ contents and without providing him the opportunity to review the documents” and without giving him a copy of them. He was deported again on Feb. 20 “without any documentation or records of his removal,” the complaint states.
Despite repeated communication with Customs and Border Patrol, through counsel, immigration officials say they have no information about his removals, according to the complaint.
He wants to see the records, plus costs of suit.
He is represented by Mónica Ramírez Almadani with Covington & Burling in Los Angeles, who could not be reached for comment after work hours Tuesday.