An illegal immigrant who came to the U.S. as a child and was the first protected undocumented worker deported by the Trump administration sued the U.S. border protection and immigration agencies, his lawyers announced Tuesday.
Juan Manuel Montes Bojorquez, 23, filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of California claiming Border Patrol did not provide a legal explanation for deporting him to Mexico in February.
Montes illegally immigrated to the U.S. when he was 9 years old. He twice received protected status under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and worked in California's agricultural fields before being deported.
On Feb. 17, Montes was approached by a Border Patrol agent on a bicycle in Calexico, Calif., a border town. The agent asked Montes for identification. Montes' lawyers claimed he had left his papers in a friend's car.
Montes was taken to a local station. He signed documents and did not receive copies of the Border Patrol papers, his complaint says. That night, he was deported to Mexicali, Mexico.
"I was forced out because I was nervous and didn't know what to do or say, but my home is there," Montes said in a statement released Tuesday evening.
The lawyers for the DACA recipient — the National Immigration Law Center, Covington and Burling LLP, the Law Offices of Stacy Tolchin, and the Law Offices of Belinda Escobosa Helzer — filed a Freedom of Information Act request on March 15 with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which Border Patrol falls under. The lawyers also requested all records related to Montes.
Per FOIA policy, agencies have 20 business days to respond. The March request went ignored, according to Montes' team, prompting them to take legal action in court Tuesday.
"Juan Manuel was funneled across the border without so much as a piece of paper to explain why or how," said Nora A. Preciado, a staff attorney at the National Immigration Law Center. "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."
The DACA program was introduced by former President Barack Obama in 2012. The future of the 750,000 illegal immigrants who were approved for two-year work authorizations is not clear, though Trump has expressed sympathy for illegal immigrant youths.