The same judge who Donald Trump smeared as “a Mexican” during the presidential campaign will preside over the case of the first known recipient of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) protections to be deported.
USA Today first reported that Juan Manuel Montes, 23, would have his lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security heard by Judge Gonzalo Curiel. Curiel’s assignment to the case was coincidental, the publication reported, as judges are selected based on a rotating schedule.
Curiel also presided over the settlement of two lawsuits from former students of the Trump U. wealth seminar courses against the then-President-elect in November. Trump agreed to a $25 million settlement in those two cases and a separate suit in New York.
In an interview in June 2016, after months of accusations from Trump that Curiel was biased against him, Trump said that Curiel ought to be ineligible to preside over the case because he was Mexican. However, Curiel was born in the United States, and is of Mexican descent.
“We’re building a wall. He’s a Mexican,” Trump said, accusing Curiel of bias. “We’re building a wall between here and Mexico.”
According to the Associated Press, DHS acknowledged that Montes had received DACA protections in 2014 and renewed them for two years in 2016, but that he lost those protections when he left the country without permission.
Montes’ attorneys said he did not leave voluntarily, but rather was deported by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
In a statement, according to the Los Angeles Times, Montes said he was walking to a taxi stand in Calexico, California when he was approached by CBP, and, not having his identification with him, was taken to a border patrol station. Montes alleged that he was made to sign documents without seeing an attorney or an immigration judge, and that he was not given a copy of the documents, according to the Times.
CPB said in a statement, according to the Times, that Montes admitted to illegally entering the United States by climbing over a fence in Calexico. But the paper reported Montes’ lawsuit contends that he climbed a fence only after he was suddenly deported while being protected by DACA.
In his lawsuit, the report continued, Montes also noted he requested records of his interactions with CPB, but has not received any information from the agency.
DHS originally claimed that Montes’ DACA protections had expired, the AP reported, but they later acknowledged that he would have been eligible to remain in the country under the program through 2018.