Tag Archives: immigration

The State Department Wants 5 Years of Social Media Handles From Refugees Before Entry

On Thursday, the Department of State issued a notice to the Federal Register, soliciting public comments on a new procedure for vetting immigrants and asylum-seekers applying for US visas. If approved, applicants will be asked for their past five years of social media handles and could be denied entry if they refuse.…

Read more...

Trump’s Wall Doesn’t Scare These Seasoned Illegal Border Crossers

The first time Gerardo, originally from El Salvador, came to the US, it was 1994. He crossed the border into Texas, then moved around the country to wherever he could find work until 2001, when he was deported home for not having papers. He didn't stay south long, however. After a month working in Reynosa, Mexico, he decided to catch a taxi across the border.

"I bought a bottle of tequila and drank half of it," Gerardo tells me, "and I got a taxi and told him to take me across. I spoke in English and I told him I'm an American citizen." The driver took him across the Puente Internacional, where he told the customs officers that he was an American citizen and that his papers were stolen in the bar. "Finally, they believed me," he says, "and gave me a paper that they stamped." The taxi driver left him at his in-laws' house in McAllen, Texas. At least for a time, Gerardo was home free.

Today, though, Gerardo doesn't think that scheme would work. The last time he attempted to cross from Mexico to the US, three years ago, he was arrested. He spent two years in federal prison before being deported once again. Gerardo is now living in Casa Tochán, a migrant shelter in Mexico City. Many of the guests at the shelter have ample experience in moving between the US, Mexico, and Central America as undocumented immigrants. Amid a political climate plagued by sensational discussions of migration, these migrants have unique insight into the challenges of border-crossing. Gerardo is currently seeking to regularize his migration status in Mexico rather than heading north to the US. He's one of many Central American migrants who have decided it's easier to build a life north of home, but south of the US border.

In the last several years, Mexico has seen an increase in migrants from Central America. The UN High Commission for Refugees reported in 2016 that asylum requests in Mexico from migrants from the "Northern Triangle"—El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala—increased by 162 percent between 2013 and 2015. Some of them plan to pass through Mexico on their way to the US and stay because they run out of money or fall victim to crime or injury. Others flee violence in their home countries and hope all along to stay in Mexico.

Many of these Central American migrants have already been to the US and back several times. For these people, Donald Trump's anti-immigrant stance represents a change in degree, not in kind. Like Gerardo, they know what it is to cross the border. They've traversed deserts and rivers, some being arrested in the process, some returning to attempt yet again.

Osman, another guest at Casa Tochán, first entered the US in 1989 hidden in the trunk of a friend's car. Now, he says, the border is more formidable. He's not particularly fazed by President Trump's promises of a border wall, though. The presence of organized crime around the border poses a greater deterrent. "There's not much difference with the wall," he tells me. "They can't keep watch everywhere."

Still, border crossings have dropped dramatically since Trump's election. According to an April 2017 report from US Customs and Border Patrol, arrests of border crossers dropped dramatically in this year's first quarter. The number of migrants arrested in March 2017 decreased by 30 percent from the prior month and by 64 percent from March 2016.

Marvin lived in Boston for 20 years, and he's crossed the US-Mexico border three times, spending a year and a half in prison after his last attempt. After leaving prison in November 2016, he was deported back home to El Salvador. Shortly thereafter, he began the journey north again. He, too, is regularizing his status in Mexico, but he hopes to return to the US again.

"It's the luck of every person," he says. "Now it's really hard to cross, but it's always possible." He's heard, though, that crossings are down. "I have friends who are coyotes, and before, they were taking across 60, 70 people every week. Now they're taking across eight or nine. And they used to charge $7,500 or $8,500. Now they're charging $10,000."

Osman

Osman isn't planning on returning to the US either. He lived in the US from 1989 to 2000, when he left voluntarily to go back to his home in Honduras. In 2015, Osman left Honduras again with the idea of working close to the US border, where he could make more money and take advantage of his English skills. He spent some time working in Nogales, and later came to Mexico City to fix his papers. There, he saw opportunities to build a life. He's regularizing his immigration status and starting a car detailing business and he hopes to bring his son after he earns enough to move out of the shelter.

What dissuaded Osman from going back to the US wasn't increased security at the border, but what life would be like beyond it: The threat of deportation looms greater than ever. "They take you out of your apartment now," he says. "Before they didn't do that." He's heard, too, that it's getting harder to make a living as an undocumented immigrant. "There aren't opportunities in the US anymore," he says. "My family there, my friends and cousins and uncles, they tell me it's hard to get work now."

Being undocumented has always been a precarious way to live, but the increased targeting of migrants under Trump has further impeded building a stable life. "Before, it was pretty calm," Gerardo says. He spent a total of 14 years in the US between 1994 and 2014. "Then, you could get a domestic flight, a Greyhound bus, rent an apartment without needing papers." Now, Gerardo says, his family and friends tell him that fear of arrest severely limits daily activities. Still it's always been hard to make it—but there's always been a way. "Trump is the cat and we're the mice," Gerardo tells me. "And mice will always find a way to get in."

A Serial Killer’s Random Murders Are Haunting Phoenix

Sylvia Ellis followed the sound of quavering voices into the 3 AM darkness outside her house, where she saw what was left of her daughter's red Chevy Cobalt. Members of her family had thrown the doors open in a failed attempt to save the people inside, and the dome light glowed, illuminating a portrait of carnage and broken glass. Ellis's 33-year-old daughter, Stefanie, lay slumped against the wheel, soaked with blood and barely breathing. She would die about three weeks later, after falling into a coma. Thirty-one-year-old Angela Linner, her daughter's partner, lay by her side, dead.

Later that morning, Ellis would learn that her 12-year-old granddaughter, Maleah, who was lying out of sight on the back seat, had been murdered, too.

The man believed responsible for the murders has been dubbed the Phoenix Serial Street Shooter by police and the local press, and is thought to have started his spree in March 2016. In total, he killed at least seven people in at least nine attacks over the course of about four months, stretching until July 11, when he abruptly went dark. The murders at the Ellis residence, which took place June 12, 2016, were his last known fatalities.

All of his victims, whether wounded or killed, were black or Hispanic, although police do not suspect a racial motive. There was no other discernible pattern to their ages or genders—he shot women, men, children, and adults ranging from teenagers to 50-somethings. Most of them were standing outside their homes or the homes of a loved one doing something mundane like making a phone call, or listening to the car stereo, as Ellis, Linner, and their child were the night they were murdered.

"My eyes open every night at three now, the same time as when the murders happened," Ellis told me from her dining table, her dark eyes gazing toward the sunlight coming through the kitchen window. "It happens almost like an alarm clock."

Sylvia Ellis posing in her Phoenix home. She lost her daughter and granddaughter to the Phoenix Serial Street Shooter in June 2016. All photos by Michael Lundgren

Phoenix's Serial Street Shooter has carried out most of his attacks in Maryvale, a gritty working-class neighborhood that produced NFL safety Darren Woodson. Here, residents are inclined to wonder aloud if a suspect would have been caught some time ago if his victims were rich or white. In my own brief time in the city, black and Hispanic residents near the sites of the shootings were generally aware of his reign of terror, while whites living around the strip-mall streets of the city's more affluent neighborhoods—with their robust central air-conditioning and bland, new American architecture—had either forgotten or never heard about the bloodshed in the first place.

Meanwhile, Phoenix police sergeant Jonathan Howard, the public information officer for the case, told me that the possibility of the suspect being Hispanic has created added headaches for his detectives—police worry that people who might have knowledge about the case are reluctant to speak out of fear of being deported. To get tips, police are using Silent Witness, a program that allows people to remain anonymous even while claiming a $75,000 reward for accurately naming the killer. But for those who fear their families being torn apart, such promises can seem like a trap.

To be sure, cops haven't ignored the Phoenix killer's body count. In fact, the start of the attacker's apparent hibernation came not long after police alerted the national media that a serial killer was on the loose. That's led some to fear he has simply entered a dormant stage, not unlike the "BTK killer," Dennis Rader, a Kansas-based menace who killed at least ten people during the 70s, 80s, and 90s, mostly by strangulation. Rader famously taunted police with sinister letters to papers like the Wichita Eagle and spaced his murders out for years at a time.

The Phoenix shooter mostly approached victims face-to-face, and in at least two incidents, witnesses and survivors claim the killer spoke before firing his weapon, although it is unclear what he said. He often unloaded nine or ten rounds at his victims at close range. Police call this "intent to kill," but to a lay observer it just looks like video-game-style excess.

The Maryvale neighborhood in Phoenix, where most of the shootings took place

The Phoenix metropolitan area, sometimes called the "Valley of the Sun," is a flat and sprawling desert city that grows hotter and drier every year. It also has an unsettling recent history with serial murder and gun violence. Dale Hausner—a serial killer who overdosed on the antidepressant Elavil while awaiting execution in 2013—and his accomplice, Samuel John Dieteman, killed at least eight people here in drive-by shootings between 2005 and 2006. Hausner has been connected to somewhere between 29 and 38 other shootings, in which he targeted pedestrians, cyclists, dogs, and even horses. At the same time the pair operated, another man, Mark Goudeau, also known as "The Baseline Killer," murdered nine people and sexually assaulted over a dozen victims at gunpoint. This past June, while the current serial killer was still at it, a judge upheld nine death sentences and more than 60 other felony convictions against Goudeau, following his appeal.

Phoenix's population includes the same eclectic mix of young progressives, libertarians, law-and-order conservatives, Mexican immigrants, and retirees that are trademarks of several southwestern cities. A fierce pro-gun mentality—what some people might describe as a "Wild West" vibe—is palpable in the local culture. Many of the people I met here owned and carried a gun at all times. Eleven non-fatal shootings took place on I-10, the city's most vital freeway, between August 29 and September 10, 2015, in which someone, or a group of people, opened fire seemingly randomly at cars, horrifying the city's commuters. The case was never solved.

Cops believe the serial killer who emerged last year is a lanky, light-skinned Hispanic male in his early 20s, but unfortunately no witnesses have gotten a clear look at his face. Police circulated a composite sketch of him last summer, but it was generic enough to trigger an eternity of false identifications. Among them was a 27-year-old man named Frank Taylor, who was shot by a woman in Glendale, Arizona, after attempting to rob her of a holstered gun. Police were able to connect him to the Maryvale area, but could not link him to the shootings.

The mother and sisters of Manny Castro Garcia. He was murdered by the Phoenix Serial Street Shooter in June of 2016 while going to pick up his girlfriend for a date.

Should the cops be wrong, and the killer turn out to be white, Arizona's polarized racial politics will inevitably cast a very long shadow. Ebony already ran a story about the murders in August that highlighted the minority status of the victims. And the state has an unsavory reputation with which to contend: Public Enemy's Chuck D once painted Arizona with fury and contempt in the song "By the Time I Get to Arizona," a diss track written after residents shot down a proposal to create a holiday for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in November 1990. (Voters approved a state King holiday two years later.) Dossie Ellis, Sr., Stefanie Ellis's father, told me the anger voiced in that song is very much alive in the city's black community, and that he trusted his own family members to investigate the killer's identity by asking around in the streets better than he did the cops.

Police, for their part, claim to have a very strong relationship with Maryvale residents of all races.

For the city's Hispanic community, things are even more urgent: While I was staying in Phoenix, the deportation of Guadalupe García de Rayos, who may have been the first person removed from the country as a direct result of President Trump's immigration policies, drew emotional protests outside ICE headquarters downtown. Meanwhile, Joe Arpaio, the 84-year-old former sheriff of Maricopa County and a controversial opponent of undocumented immigration who once jokingly referred to his jail for undocumented immigrants as a "concentration camp," lost his bid for a seventh term in November. But hostility toward Hispanics crossing the border still runs hot in parts of the state. Trump won Arizona by close to 100,000 votes, and driving through Phoenix these days, you might see a giant billboard thanking the alleged human rights violator Arpaio for his service looming heavily over the coarse desert floor and cars zipping by below.

A neighbor of Horacio Pena, who was murdered by the Phoenix Serial Street Shooter in June of 2016

Nine days before the shooting at the Ellis residence, Nancy Peña, 32, was at work when she got the call from her sister that her twin brother Horacio de Jesus Peña had been shot. She assumed the violence was self-inflicted. Horacio, a caregiver for people with disabilities, led a difficult life, tormented by shyness and schizophrenia, and had attempted suicide at least three times before that night, she told me. But when Peña arrived at the family home to see her brother, she knew it was murder: Horacio lay by the curb of the street, utterly deformed by gunshots. Peña described him as looking "like a puddle." Police later attributed his murder to the Phoenix Serial Street Shooter.

Nancy Peña says she's suffered debilitating panic attacks since that night last June. She now occupies her mind with close to 60 hours of work each week, split between a retirement community and the position her brother left behind at Valley Life, an organization that cares for the disabled. She has tattoos up and down her arm that are tied to moments when her twin ran away or attempted suicide; now she keeps a wall of pictures devoted to him, showing me remembrances in a box, including signed artifacts from local sports franchises like the Phoenix Coyotes or Arizona Diamondbacks offered to the family as gifts following his death.

According to Peña, the strain and horror of her brother's killing shook the foundations of her family. "People say that tragedies like this bring people together, but for us it's been the opposite," she explained, exhaling from a Marlboro Light.

Nancy Pena posing in her home. Her brother Horacio was murdered by the Phoenix Serial Street Shooter in June of 2016.

Because the shootings were spaced out over several months in an area where gun violence is a well-known problem, police didn't determine they had a serial killer on their hands until June—after Diego Verdugo Sanchez, Krystal Annette White, Horacio Peña, Manny Castro Garcia, Stefanie Ellis, Angela Linner, and little Maleah Ellis had already been killed. Howard told me that a "sick feeling" ran through everyone in his department when they finally connected the murders to one individual.

Since the killer stopped working, there's been a fragile sense of relief among officers, mixed with a struggle to unearth new evidence. More than anything, police sought a way to keep word of the investigation alive in the community. But internal frustration mounted, with one source close to the probe telling me the case sparked a good deal of departmental infighting, although no formal changes have come as a result. As Andy Hill, who served as the public information officer during the Baseline Killer attacks but is now retired, put it, "Nobody puts more pressure on the police than themselves" in investigations like this one.

Some Hispanic and black residents in the city beg to differ.

"To say that I've spoken with any officers about this case recently would be a lie," Ellis told me. "No, I'm not satisfied with the work they've done." Nancy Peña and the family of Manny Castro Garcia expressed similar frustrations with the efforts of police, and told me that they worried the case had grown cold in the months that passed since the killer went dormant.

The house in Maryvale where three people, including a 12-year-old girl, were murdered by the Phoenix Serial Street Shooter in June of 2016.

Howard expressed empathy for the families of victims, and seemed to know them personally, especially Peña, who contacts him regularly looking for updates. He flatly denied that the races of the victims contributed to any lack of urgency on the part of police. Most recently, word of a new person of interest in the case gave Peña a feeling of hope that the killer could be apprehended, but it was coupled with a feeling of frustration that she had heard the news first from local media, and not police.

Meanwhile, cops have been forced to hang onto the few details they do know about the killer and try to isolate what makes him tick.

The shooter may be comfortable with a variety of weapons. Dossie Ellis, Sr., for example, claims to have found 9mm bullets on his property in the aftermath of the shooting. Mel Nicholson, a 63-year-old man who lived outside of the house where one of the murders took place, showed me the holes where 40 caliber bullets tuned up his car and house, slicing through the garage and then several layers of wooden shelving used for cat food and cleaning supplies. Police have said only that the shooter preferred semi-automatic handguns, capable of firing as many as 15 or 16 rounds at a time. He may have also changed cars, having possibly been seen in a late-1990s brown Nissan with a spoiler, a black BMW, and a white car—most likely a Cadillac or Lincoln.

Bullet holes still mark the home of Mel Nicholson, 63, the nextdoor neighbor of Manny Castro Garcia's girlfriend.

It's possible that the shooter travelled with other people, and one witness—a teenager who was staying at the Ellis house when the murders took place—puts him alongside as many as two accomplices. Police would not confirm or deny that account.

Whether or not the city's black and Hispanic communities' fears about police devotion are warranted, the killer's crimes live on in the grieving family members he left behind.

Sylvia Ellis's insomnia, a symptom she shares with Gisela Castro, the mother of Manny Castro Garcia, is coupled with horror-movie visions of her daughter's death: She still sees Stefanie collapsed on the steering wheel of the Cobalt, struggling to breathe, a bullet hole warping her eye.

"Every day the shooting plays in my head like a video," Ellis said. "I'm still living inside of that nightmare."

Follow Michael Edison Hayden on Twitter.

More Muslims Are Running for Office in a Vile Political Climate

When Abdul El-Sayed addresses a town hall of Democratic stalwarts in a conservative pocket of southeast Michigan, he lets out out a battle cry. "Who believes that we have to put people ahead of profits?" he roars. "Who believes in democracy over dynasty?"

The former University of Michigan varsity lacrosse player has the air of a coach confident he's on pace for a championship win. His athletic and academic success earned him a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford, and his degrees in medicine and public health led Detroit mayor Mike Duggan to tap him to restore municipal control over the city's health department after bankruptcy proceedings in 2015. Now, at 32, El-Sayed is running to be Michigan's next governor. If elected, he'll be the first Muslim in American history to hold that position, a fact that he doesn't shy away from despite a national climate rather hostile to people like him.

Although Islamophobic acts appear to be on the rise and immigration policies designed exclusively to target Muslims have been imposed by President Donald Trump, more Muslim Americans seem to be vying for political office than ever before. While some members of Trump's Cabinet have, in the past, claimed that Islam is fundamentally at odds with the Constitution, echoing longtime right-wing paranoia about Sharia law, many of these nascent politicians say the things that put them on blast—their faith and immigrant roots —are what inspired their candidacies and desire to serve.

"My dad, he immigrated from Egypt, and he was looking for an America that was big enough for him too," El-Sayed tells the hundreds gathered in a banquet hall of overstated chandeliers and dizzying carpeting on a recent Tuesday evening. "He chose to come here because he knew he could raise their children to practice [their faith] as they wanted and be just as American as anyone else."

But his story is more nuanced than one might expect: El-Sayed's parents split up, and his father married Jacqueline Johnson, a white woman from central Michigan. In the middle of his stump speech, the candidate asks his stepmother's parents—Judy and Jan—to stand before painting a picture of Thanksgiving in their household.

"I've got my dad, Mohamed, who's a part-time imam and leads prayer at the mosque, and I've got my grandma Judy, and she's a deacon in her Presbyterian Church. And then we've got the wildcard, my uncle Piotr, who immigrated from what is now Poland, who's a devout atheist." El-Sayed says. "And we sit together, and we eat our turkey, and we have conversations about God and country, and we don't always agree. But I'll tell you we always respect each other."

The Democrat's fate rests on a resurgence of that kind of mutual respect after the state narrowly—and surprisingly —voted in favor of Donald Trump for president. The pitch seems to play well, albeit to a friendly audience: The crowd is dotted with pink pussy hats and jackets emblazoned with union logos. Nearly the entire group rises to its feet and cheers when El-Sayed wraps up his speech with an explicit appeal for support.

The man's cadence and energy remind Gary Fougni, a retired 63-year-old in attendance, of another candidate with a diverse background and midwestern roots: Barack Obama. Fougnie appreciates how forthcoming El-Sayed is about his background. He knows a bit about the challenge El-Sayed faces, having worked in the defense industry alongside many who swapped their Middle Eastern names for ones more familiar to those in the American Midwest.

"I was very pleased that he puts himself out there [with his faith]," Fougni says. Still, he doubts that sentiment will be shared very widely across the Great Lakes State. "It's gunna be an uphill situation for him, because unfortunately there's not a lot of open-mindedness... He'll give a good speech, but all they'll think about is where he came from."

This is exactly what many people with immigrant backgrounds fear when entering the fray of public life, according to Sayu Bhojwani, who heads up the New American Leaders Project (NALP). A majority of applicants to the organization's political trainings "cite some marker of their identity as an obstacle: name, religion, appearance, skin color, and/or immigration status," she explains. "They talk about how each of those things could be perceived as a barrier."

Despite those fears, NALP has seen double the normal number of applicants —and double the number of Muslim American applicants—over the last year.

When I drop in to one of the trainings for potential candidates from New York, Colorado, and Michigan at the Arab-American Museum in Dearborn, Bhojwani offers simple but essential advice. "Because of who you are, how you look, what your name is, you will be asked questions that perhaps a white candidate might not be asked," she says in a room tucked away from where other aspiring politicians are practicing their speeches.

Instead of getting defensive as opponents and voters whittle them down to a series of negative stereotypes, Bhojwani says, would-be candidates should take a sip of water, count to ten, and then "pivot back to the message and the reason that you're running."

Check out the recent VICE News Tonight segment on the ongoing crisis of displaced migrants drowning in the Mediterranean.

Derogatory comments and false accusations come with the territory, according to Nadeem Mazen, an MIT-educated engineer who serves in the Cambridge, Massachusetts, city council. Breitbart, the alt-right site formerly run by Trump White House strategist Steve Bannon, called Mazen an "aggressive anti-police activist" with "Islamist sympathies" just after he secured another term in November 2015.

Mazen was expecting such a blow. After all, he says, every single Muslim American he knows who's made an attempt at a career in politics "has been targeted in a smear campaign without exception."

But when I broach the prospect of facing off against angry Trump supporters with the potential candidates at the training in Michigan, few seem particularly worried.

"People might come at me with some xenophobic and discriminatory comments, but I think calling it out as it is is really important," says 28-year-old Ghida Dagher, who was the campaign manager for Abdullah Hammoud, a state representative in the Dearborn area. Still, she notes, it's important not to let prejudice dictate the terms of debate. "The more you feed into that rhetoric, the more that you get stuck in it."

Abdul El-Sayed has already taken his own share of abuse and factually dubious skepticism. Earlier this month, a right-wing blog accused him of having ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, which he denies. Driving in what he calls his "trusty Ford Explorer" from a campaign stop in Northern Michigan into the potholed expanse of highways surrounding Detroit, El-Sayed says his faith is his North Star, but not really relevant to running the state of Michigan.

"I'm proud of my faith, and I'm proud of who I am. I'm not leaning away from it at all," he tells me over the phone. "I didn't change my name. I didn't shave my beard. My wife wears a hijab. But it's not what's going to build an economy. It's not what's going to rebuild our schools or address our public health challenges."

Part of why he's entering politics is to prove that politicians don't have to fit the old white man mould.

"For me," El-Sayed says, "There is a responsibility to stand up and say, 'Look, whichever color I am and however I pray, I think I've got a skill set that my state needs right now.'"

Follow Beenish Ahmed on Twitter.

Trump Assured ‘DREAMers’ They Can ‘Rest Easy’

On Friday, President Donald Trump said immigrants brought to the States illegally as children can "rest easy" knowing his administration won't kick them out of the country, just days after a "DREAMer" sued the government for allegedly deporting him without legal grounds, the Associated Press reports.

Trump has flip-flopped on what to do about DREAMers—those who arrived in the US illegally before they were 16 and are protected from deportation under Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. In August, Trump vowed to "immediately terminate" the program, which he called "illegal." But since his election, he's softened, telling the AP Friday that sparing DACA recipients was "a case of heart."

But on Tuesday, 23-year-old Juan Manuel Montes sued the government after he was allegedly booted from the US despite having recently renewed his DACA status. If true, Montes would be the first DACA recipient to be deported under Trump. In March, ICE agents arrested DREAMer Daniela Vargas after she left a pro-immigration event in Jackson, Mississippi. And later that month, the feds agreed to release DREAMer Daniel Ramirez Medina after holding him in detention for two months.

Still, Trump said Friday his administration is "not after the DREAMers, we are after the criminals." He also said that Montes's case was "a little different than the dreamer case," but it's not clear why that would be.

One thing Trump hasn't wavered on is building a giant wall across our southern border, though he hasn't decided yet where he'll get the $25 billion likely needed to cover the construction cost. 

"I want the border wall," Trump told the AP Friday. "My base definitely wants the border wall."

Follow Drew Schwartz on Twitter.

‘DREAMer’ Deported by Trump Administration Is Suing the Government

In the first documented case of its kind, a young DACA recipient has filed a lawsuit against the government after he says he was deported from the US before he was able to prove his legal status, USA Today reports

Juan Manuel Montes, 23, claims he had a right to remain in the States as a DREAMer—one of 750,000 kids who came to the US illegally as children but were granted legal status under Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Under the program, recipients can receive two-year work permits on a renewable basis, a permit Montes said he held at the time he was booted from the country. He's asking the government to hand over critical information about the night he was deported—records the Department of Homeland Security says don't exist. 

Though President Trump vowed to "show great heart" toward DACA recipients, Montes's legal team says his administration has now deported one for the first time, and pretty brutally.

They claim Montes was walking to a taxi stand in Calexico, California, on February 17 when he was stopped by a Border Patrol agent who asked him for ID. Montes said he'd left it in a friend's car, but swore he lived in the US legally as a DREAMer. Regardless, immigration officials allegedly tossed him in a squad car, drove him to the station, and then walked him across the border to Mexico—all within the span of a few hours. Montes claims he never saw a lawyer, was never given a reason, and never got a chance to search for his work permit, according to the lawsuit.

Homeland Security, however, says that incident never happened, admitting only that agents deported Montes on February 19 after he tried to enter the US from Mexico, which Montes admitted to doing a few days after he claims he was sent back. DHS claims that it notified him then that his DACA status had expired back in 2015. Montes's lawyers argue that he renewed his status in 2016, which doesn't expire until 2018. 

Although DACA recipients can be removed from the country if they've committed serious crimes, Montes's lawyer, Marielena Hincapié, told the New York Times he only had a few minor traffic violations and a misdemeanor for shoplifting—which she says wouldn't make him eligible for deportation.

Though Montes would be the first DACA recipient to actually be deported from the country, the government has already targeted a number of DREAMers. Daniel Ramirez Medina just regained legal status after he was arrested in Washington in February, and in March, Daniela Vargas was detained for a week after speaking out about immigration at a news conference in Mississippi.

Follow Drew Schwartz on Twitter.