USA TODAY Story About DREAMer Unjustly Deported Is Contradicted By DHS Officials
USA Today reported Tuesday that Juan Manuel Montes Bojorquez, an illegal immigrant protected by Barack Obama’s Dreamer amnesty policy, was deported in February. However, a Department of Homeland Security spokesman told The Daily Caller that the man’s amnesty status had been terminated.
The USA Today story claimed that Bojorquez, 23, was apprehended by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents in Calexico, Calif while he was waiting for a car ride to pick him up, and that federal agents ignored President Trump’s pledge to protect from deportation undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children by sending the young man back to his native Mexico, upholding the policy established by Barack Obama.
“Within three hours, he was back in Mexico, becoming the first undocumented immigrant with active DACA status deported by the Trump administration’s stepped-up deportation policy,” the USA Today reporters wrote.
This was supposed to be a bombshell story because the Trump administration has said it will not deport the over 750,000 illegal immigrants who receive DACA, but this incident, if accurate, would have been a departure from that policy.
As it turns out, it is highly probable that it is inaccurate.
David Lapan, a DHS spokesman, in a statement Wednesday, said:
“After a detailed records search, we determined that Juan Manuel Montes-Bojorquez was approved for DACA starting in 2014 and had a DACA expiration date of Jan. 25, 2018. However, Mr. Montes-Bojorquez lost his DACA status when he left the United States without advanced parole on an unknown date prior to his arrest by the U.S. Border Patrol on Feb. 19, 2017.”
Lawyers for Bojorquez said that after he was deported on Feb. 18, he subsequently returned to the U.S. after being robbed in Mexico, and shortly thereafter turned himself in to immigration officials.
Lapan refutes those claims:
“The U.S. Border Patrol has no record of encountering Mr. Montes-Bojorquez in the days before his detention and subsequent arrest for immigration violations on February 19, 2017. There are no records or evidence to support Montes-Bojorquez’s claim that he was detained or taken to the Calexico Port of Entry on February 18, 2017.”
“During his arrest interview, he never mentioned that he had received DACA status. However, 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,” Lapan added.
This article from USA Today received a swift reaction on Twitter. Sean McElwee, a policy analyst at Demos Action, said it was “absolutely horrifying.” MSNBC host Christopher Hayes said, “This is profoundly messed up.” Gizmodo staff writer Libby Watson tweeted, “the lack of due process and basic decency for immigrants is really astounding. can’t be covered enough.”
Earlier Tuesday, DHS Secretary John Kelly condemned false news stories in a speech at George Washington University. “So I make my way up the Beltway every day, and I use that hour or so to read the news clips about DHS. It’s one of the first two things I do every day—the other is the daily intelligence briefing,” Kelly said. “In one, I read what other people are saying about me—and more important, what they’re saying about my people. In the other, I learn about what’s really going on.”
While it is true that Bojorquez did, in fact, have DACA status until 2018, the DHS claims that he violated the terms of the amnesty which requires individuals to get pre-clearance before leaving the country. On February 19, he had been apprehended by Border Patrol trying to sneak back into the U.S. This shows that he left without authorization, and hence his protection under DACA was void.
“Mr. Montes-Bojorquez lost his DACA status when he left the United States without advanced parole on an unknown date prior to his arrest by the US Border Patrol on Feb. 19, 2017,” said DHS spokeswoman Jenny Burke in a statement. “According to his interview with the Border Patrol, conducted in Spanish, he entered the United States on February 19, 2017, and he acknowledged that he understood the questions that he was being asked. Departing the country without advanced parole terminates the protections Montes-Bojorquez was granted under DACA.”
“Juan Manuel has been unequivocal in his assertion that he never voluntarily left the country while he had DACA. We believe him,” said Nora Preciado, a staff attorney with the National Immigration Law Center and co-counsel on the case. “We filed a FOIA lawsuit to get answers.”