The recent deportation of 23-year-old Juan Manuel Montes, who was protected by former President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, has created concern among NYU DREAM Team members.
Montes came to the United States at the age of nine and was deported to Mexico on Feb. 17 of this year, according to USA Today. Montes’ lawyers have attested that the story is the first known case of a protected DACA person — or DREAMer — being deported. Prior to his deportation, Montes had four prior convictions: one for shoplifting and three for driving without a license. However, none of these convictions legally disqualify him from DACA protections.
After being deported to Mexico, Montes says he was beaten and mugged. He saw some people using rope to climb the border wall and attempted to join them. He was caught by federal agents, questioned and deported again. The Department of Homeland Security has no record of arresting and deporting Montes, claiming that they have only a record of his arrest after climbing the wall.
Vice President of NYU’s DREAM Team Ginnila Perez said that Montes’s story forces the nation to seriously face questions about who is actually protected under our new administration.
“I strongly believe that all undocumented people in this country deserve the same dignity and protection as anyone else — regardless of their immigration status,” Perez said. “However, of course, the deportation of Montes is particularly alarming as it shows that not even those who were supposed to be protected under the law are completely safe in this administration.”
President of DREAM Team and CAS sophomore Husniye Cogur, Student Senator-at-Large for undocumented and DACA students, believes that the detainment of Montes breaches the correct legal channels already put in place under DACA.
“I am utterly disgusted and angry with the deportation of Juan Manuel,” Cogur said. “His status as a DACA recipient warrants him legal rights and safeguards against deportation, and I believe his detainment is a gross infringement on his due process.”
Cogur also said she believes that Montes’s deportation should prompt students to continue advocating for immigration rights at NYU.
“His deportation is unconstitutional but a scary reminder to us all to keep advocating for undocumented [or] DACA students and to make sure their voices are being heard,” Cogur said. “I hope this will also be a nudge to [NYU President] Andrew Hamilton to reaffirm NYU’s legal status as a sanctuary for undocumented individuals.”
A version of this article appeared in the Monday, April 24 print edition.
Email Arushi Sahay at [email protected]