A recipient of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program who was deported earlier this year is back in federal custody after border agents caught him trying to illegally cross the U.S.-Mexico border, authorities said Wednesday.
Juan Manuel Montes was arrested Monday night in Calexico, Calif. after agents spotted him running along the U.S. side of the border, according to a Border Patrol statement.
The 23-year-old Montes, thought to be the only DACA recipient to be deported under the Trump administration, was booked into the Imperial County jail, reports USA Today. He is likely to be deported, but also faces prison time for illegally reentering the U.S. after being removed.
Montes’s deportation history began in February, when immigration authorities removed him from Calexico across the border to Mexico, despite his protected status under DACA. Montes revealed his situation to USA Today in April, sparking outrage and condemnation of the Trump administration, which was accused of improperly deporting a promising young “Dreamer.”
Immigration officials responded with a much different account of Montes’s case, reporting that border agents had arrested him after he climbed over the border fence from Mexico into California.
“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,” DHS spokesman David Lapan told The Daily Caller News Foundation at the time.
DHS did concede that Montes had renewed his DACA status before his arrest, but asserted that he had voided his protections by voluntarily leaving the U.S. and illegally crossing the border upon his return.
Montes sued the Trump administration in April, asking a federal court to review the legality of his removal. A federal judge presided over hearings on the case in August and planned to allow Montes to return to the U.S. so he could testify on his own behalf.
Despite those developments, he elected last month to drop the case and remain in Mexico, according to his lawyers from the National Immigration Law Center.
Montes could face up to two years in prison if federal prosecutors pursue charges of illegal reentry after deportation. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has prioritized such cases, mandating that all U.S. attorneys consider felony charges against illegal immigrants who come back to the U.S. after being removed.
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