There is an unmistakable irony that the first deported dreamer in the Trump administration will seek relief before the federal judge President Donald Trump impugned last year because of his Mexican heritage. Judge Gonzalo Curiel of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California has been selected to hear a case involving the recent deportation of 23-year-old Juan Manuel Montes Bojorquez, a young man protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
During the 2016 presidential campaign, Judge Curiel, was assigned to hear a lawsuit against Trump University. Outside of the courtroom, Trump accused the judge of being biased against him because of his campaign promise calling for a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico. Trump cited the judge’s membership in a Latino lawyers’ association to support his claim of bias because of Curiel’s Mexican heritage; even making repeated calls for the judge to recuse himself. To be clear, Judge Curiel is an American citizen, who was born in the State of Indiana. House Speaker Paul Ryan called Trump’s comment ”sort of like the textbook definition of a racist comment.” Trump settled that case and two others lawsuits prior to reaching Judge Curiel’s courtroom.
Trump will again face Judge Curiel. The judge will decide whether federal officials must turn over information about Montes’ lawyers. Montes qualified and successfully maintained DACA protection until he was arbitrarily stopped by a border agent and deported.
DACA status provides protection to immigrants brought to the United States illegally as children.
Montes was leaving a friend’s house headed to a taxi stand in Calexico, California, in mid-February when he was approached by a customs agent on a bicycle. It was approximately 10:00 p.m. When the officer asked Montes for identification, Montes didn’t have any. He had left his wallet in his friend’s car. A second officer arrived, placed Montez in a vehicle, then after more questioning eventually walked Montes to the U.S.-Mexico border. That act of removal–a walk across the border–made Montes the first dreamer to be deported in the Trump administration.
Montes’ deportation story – or the story of any deported dreamer, would sway even the most stalwart immigration conservative. Also, Trump administration lawyers are unlikely to find a bench warmed by Trump’s calling card. Either way, Judge Curiel is a well-respected jurist who has proven his dedication to impartial decision-making. No doubt his ruling in the Montes case will follow his strong record.