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Behind the "First DREAMer deported under Trump" story

Juan Gastelum / National Immigration Law Center via AP

Juan Manuel Montes was deported to Mexico in February, leading to a USA Today report Tuesday declaring him the first DREAMer deported under President Trump. The Department of Homeland Security disputed that report, as the Daily Caller first noted.

Trump said Friday that DREAMers should "rest easy" and that his administration is "after the criminals," not those protected under Obama-era rules about undocumented immigrants that came to the U.S. as children, per the AP. Notably, Trump called Montes' case "a little different than the DREAMer case," but did not specify why.

Based on conversations with both sides, either Montes' account is incomplete or false, or the DHS deported a protected DREAMer and kept no record of having done so.

Why it matters: Reports that a protected DREAMer had been deported were taken as a sign that Trump was further ramping up immigration enforcement, and Montes' case is due to come before Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who Trump once deemed unfit to hear his Trump University case because of Curiel's Mexican heritage.

Below is a timeline of the deportation, from Montes' original claims until after the USA Today story went live.

What Montes says happened:

  • Nora Preciado, one of Montes' lawyers, tells Axios he was apprehended unlawfully "on or about" April 17 after encountering Border Patrol upon leaving a friend's house in Calexico, California.
  • She says he wasn't allowed to retrieve documentation proving his DACA status (valid through 2018) from his friend's car where he left it "either earlier that day or the day before."
  • Then he was driven to the port of entry and deported, possibly in the early hours of the 18th.

DHS Spokesman Dave Lapan tells Axios DHS has no record of an encounter with Montes on the 17th or the 18th — which Preciado calls convenient. Preciado says Montes was not given documentation of this deportation

South of the Border, Preciado says two individuals mugged Montes with a knife and assaulted him, and Preciado says because he was scared for his life, he tried crossing the border back into the U.S.

DHS says Montes was deported on the 19th — and only the 19th — after being intercepted while trying to climb the border fence. This, Lapan claims, makes the deportation lawful because Montes would have forfeited his DACA status by leaving the U.S. without advanced parole.

One last discrepancy: "Juan Manuel knew two things for certain: 1) he had authorization to be in the U.S. and 2) he couldn't leave the U.S. without permission, which means he has never left voluntarily." But Lapan says Montes never mentioned his DACA status during his "arrest interview" on the 19th.