Federal agents have deported the first “Dreamer” of President Trump’s tenure so far, according to an examination of his administration’s immigration policies.
Juan Manuel Montes, who first arrived in the U.S. at age 9, is now in his native Mexico despite having active protection under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, USA Today reported Tuesday.
“Some people told me that they were going to deport me; others said nothing would happen,” Montes said from his relatives' home in western Mexico.
USA Today said a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CPB) officer approached Montes, 23, the evening of Feb. 17 in Calexico, Calif.
Montes had left his wallet in a friend’s car, meaning he could not prove his DACA status during the encounter. He ended up in Mexico hours later, USA Today reported, after agents told him he could not retrieve his documents.
USA Today added that Montes was twice granted deportation protections under DACA before his ejection in February.
But a spokeswoman for the Department of Homeland Security disputed Montes’s story, saying that he was arrested by Border Patrol after illegally climbing over a fence in Calexico on Feb. 19.
"He was arrested by BP just minutes after he made his illegal entry and admitted under oath during the arrest interview that he had entered illegally," Gillian Christensen said in a statement, according to BuzzFeed News.
Montes’s attorney said his DACA status was valid until 2018, while Christensen said it had expired in 2015 and was not renewed.
DACA lets some people brought to the U.S. illegally as children obtain work permits and relief from deportation.
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi slammed the news, calling it "another promise cruelly broken by President Trump."
“The Trump Administration is terrorizing patriotic young people who want nothing more than to live, work and contribute to the country they love – the only home they’ve ever known. These outstanding young men and women are American in every way but on paper," she said in a statement." “The Trump Administration’s cruelty toward the DREAMers disgraces our values as a nation. Shame on them."
Former President Obama first implemented DACA in June 2012, and it now has 750,000 participants.
Trump vowed to end DACA during his 2016 campaign but has since spoken sympathetically of the young people benefiting from it.
“DACA is a very, very difficult subject for me,” he said in February, adding he hoped to tackle the issue “with heart.”
United We Dream, an advocacy organization made up of DACA enrollees and other young immigrants, says at least 10 recipients are in federal custody.
The Trump administration has said DACA recipients are not a deportation priority, with its focus instead being criminal undocumented immigrants.