There’s no denying that President Donald Trump’s anti-immigration policies have put the immigration community on edge, including DREAMers. Although they are supposed to be protected from deportation, Immigration Customs and Enforcement officials have detained handfuls.

Although these DREAMers have been released or are still in custody, none had actually been deported — until now.

On February 17, Juan Manuel Montes was deported to Mexico.

The 23-year-old was waiting for a ride home in Calexico, California when a US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) official began asking him questions. According to Montes, he was detained when he couldn’t provide proof of his legal status because he left his wallet in his friend’s car. 

He was reportedly not allowed to get a hold of his paperwork, contact his family, or get legal help.

The DREAMer, who had arrived in the US at age nine, was deported within three hours.

He qualified twice for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) that allowed him to study, work, and travel without the fear of deportation. Tension has risen between DREAMers and immigration officials, despite Trump telling them not to worry.

In March, ICE were under fire after tweeting a series of messages that told DREAMers they weren't exempt from deportation. According to United We Dream, there are at least 10 in immigration custody at the moment.

“Some people told me that they were going to deport me; others said nothing would happen,” Montes told USA TODAY from Mexico. “I thought that if I kept my nose clean nothing would happen.”


CBP claims Montes was detained because of his expired status.

US Customs and Border Protection officials
photo: Eric Gay-Pool/Getty Images

Although the Department of Homeland Security said it couldn’t confirm the details of this particular case, Jenny Burke, a spokesperson, told USA TODAY that Montes didn’t renew his DACA status after it expired in 2015. But his attorneys provided paperwork that proved he was protected from deportation until 2018, when he would have to re-apply again.

"They detained me, they took me to a center, they asked me a lot of questions, and I signed a lot of papers," he told USA TODAY.

Fusion received a statement from DHS that contradicts Montes' account of his deportation.

In its statement, CBP refers to Montes’ shoplifting conviction in January 2016. He also had three convictions for driving without a license. But these convictions aren’t serious enough to have his DACA status revoked, according to US Citizenship and Immigration Services.

On April 18, Montes filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration.

He wants important information about his deportation to be released. After two months in Mexico, he hopes to return home soon. 

In a National Immigration Law Center press release, he said:

“I was forced out because I was nervous and didn’t know what to do or say, but my home is there. 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.”