April 18 (UPI) — U.S. immigration officials failed to provide a legal explanation for the first-known deportation of a “Dreamer” under President Donald Trump‘s administration, attorneys said in a federal lawsuit filed Tuesday.
Juan Manuel Montes, 23, who has lived in the United States since he was 9, said he was “forced out” despite protected status under former President Barack Obama‘s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), also known as “Dreamer.”
“I was nervous and didn’t know what to do or say, but my home is there,” Montes added in a statement provided by his lawyers, who filed suit on his behalf in San Diego. “I miss my job. I miss school. And I want to continue to work toward better opportunities. But most of all, I miss my family, and I have hope that I will be able to go back so I can be with them again.”
The Department of Homeland Security disputed the claim Tuesday night, saying Montes’ “Dreamer” status expired in 2015 and the agency has no record of his renewal.
Montes was deported on Feb. 17. The lawsuit said his legal counsel contacted U.S. Customs and Border Patrol and requested information under the Freedom of Information Act and received none.
“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 Los Angeles-based National Immigration Law Center. “No one should have to file a lawsuit to find out what happened to them.”
Montes told USA Today he grabbed a bite and was waiting for a ride in Calexico, Calif., when approached by a U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer.
Montes said he left his wallet in a friend’s car and he couldn’t produce his ID or proof of his DACA status. Within three hours, he was back in Mexico, the first undocumented immigrant with active DACA status deported under the Trump administration’s policy.
Obama granted “Dreamer” protection to more than 750,000 undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children — and Trump pledged to protect them amid his agenda to enforce immigration laws.
“They shouldn’t be very worried,” the president told ABC News in January. “I do have a big heart.”