The illegal immigrant “Dreamer” who’s become a cause celebre for advocacy groups after his deportation earlier this year had actually lost his legal status by leaving the U.S. without permission, negating his permit under President Obama’s deportation amnesty, federal officials said Wednesday.
Juan Manuel Montes-Bojorquez, the 23-year-old who is now suing the Trump administration, claimed he’d been granted status under Mr. Obama’s 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, or DACA. But he said he was deported in February anyway, despite that protection, after agents refused to let him get his paperwork.
Immigrant-rights advocates and high-ranking members of Congress, including the top House Democrat and the second-ranking Senate Democrats, have taken up Mr. Montes’s cause, saying he shouldn’t have been kicked out, accusing Mr. Trump of breaking his promises, and demanding answers from Homeland Security.
But Customs and Border Protection, the Homeland Security agency that arrested and deported Mr. Montes, says the young man’s story, which he first told to USA Today, doesn’t check out.
Mr. Montes told the newspaper he was arrested Feb. 18 after having lunch with a friend and wasn’t allowed to get his wallet showing his DACA approval, which he said should have protected him into early 2018. He said he was quickly deported, then tried to sneak back into the U.S. a day later, when he was caught and deported again.
CBP officials said Tuesday night that Mr. Montes fell out of DACA status in 2015, but in a new statement Wednesday the agency acknowledged he had been approved through January 2018.
But the agency said he broke the terms of DACA by leaving the U.S. without permission, making him eligible to be deported. Agents said they have no records of the Feb. 18 encounter Mr. Montes recalled, but did arrest him on Feb. 19 after he jumped the border.
“During Mr. Montes-Bojorquez’s detention and arrest by the United States Border Patrol on February 19, he admitted to agents that he had illegally entered the United States and was arrested,” the agency said in a statement.
CBP said Mr. Montes never mentioned DACA status during his interview with the Border Patrol, but even if it had come up, he had violated the terms and was subject to deportation.
“Even if Montes-Bojorquez had informed agents of his DACA status, he had violated the conditions of his status by breaking continuous residency in the United States by leaving and then reentering the U.S. illegally,” CBP said.
Mr. Montes also had several convictions on his record, including a shoplifting conviction last summer, after his most recent DACA approval in January 2016