Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

"Juan Manuel [Montes] was funneled across the border without so much as a piece of paper to explain why or how." (Photo: National Immigration Law Center/Twitter)

Trump Administration Deports First Protected 'Dreamer,' Betraying Promise

A student protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which Trump promised to preserve, was deported to Mexico

Nika Knight

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents deported a 23-year-old child of undocumented immigrants protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in February, USA TODAY reported Tuesday, violating President Donald Trump's repeated promises to protect so-called "Dreamers" from deportation.

"They shouldn't be very worried," Trump told ABC News in January. "I do have a big heart."

But Juan Manuel Montes, 23, was reportedly picked up by ICE agents in Calexico, Calif., in late February while waiting for a ride from a friend, and summarily deported to Mexico when he couldn't produce identification. (Montes said he had left his wallet in his friend's car.)

Fellow Dreamer and United We Dream advocacy director Greisa Martinez told USA TODAY: "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."

"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," Rep. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) commented to NBC.

A group of attorneys filed a lawsuit on Montes' behalf Tuesday after Customs and Border Protection failed to respond to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request filed by Montes last month, seeking records regarding his case.

"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, in a statement. "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."

USA TODAY also reported that Homeland Security statements regarding the case conflict with Montes' own records:

After USA TODAY published the story, the Department of Homeland Security—which had refused a request for comment for 24 hours—said it could not confirm details of Montes' deportation. Spokeswoman Jenny Burke said the department had no record of him renewing his DACA status after it expired in 2015, even though Montes' attorneys provided a copy of his work authorization card that showed his DACA status was valid through 2018.

The newspaper added: "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 told USA TODAY. "How does an immigrant family today know that this is not going to happen to them?"


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

Exposed: How Pfizer Exploits Secretive Vaccine Contracts to Strong-Arm Governments

"Pfizer has used its monopoly on a lifesaving vaccine to extract concessions from desperate governments," said the report's author, urging action from the Biden administration.

Jessica Corbett ·


'A Toxic Presence in the Party': Ocasio-Cortez Joins Calls for Jay Jacobs to Resign

"India Walton is the Democratic nominee for mayor of Buffalo. No amount of racist misogyny from the old boys' club is going to change that."

Brett Wilkins ·


This 3-Minute Video Explains How Richie Neal Turned Paid Family Leave Into Insurance Giveaway

"Passing a poorly designed paid leave proposal is a dangerous political game for Democrats," warns policy analyst Matt Bruenig.

Julia Conley ·


'End the Filibuster': GOP Ready to Tank Even Manchin's Compromise Voting Rights Bill

"Sen. Manchin searched for 10 Republicans to support voting rights legislation, but Republican senators willing to break with Sen. McConnell and stand on the right side of history simply don't exist."

Jessica Corbett ·


London Science Museum Accused of 'Jumping Into Bed With Big Coal' After Adani Sponsorship

"I can't believe that the Science Museum—of all institutions and this of all years—has accepted money from Adani, one of the greatest climate criminals."

Andrea Germanos ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo