Trump faces ‘Mexican heritage’ judge in deported DREAMER case
Federal agents deported 23-year-old DREAMer, Juan Manuel Montes. He is the first protected immigrant to be deported back to Mexico.
Juan Manuel Montes became the first known DACA recipient to be deported under President Donald Trump. A Border Patrol agent reportedly stopped the 23-year-old on the street in Calexico, Calif., on Feb. 17 and asked him for identification, which Montes could not produce because he’d left his wallet in a friend’s car. The DREAMer, who has lived in the U.S. since he was 9, was detained and made to sign documents without being given copies or allowed to consult a lawyer or see a judge, according to a complaint filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in California. Hours after he was stopped, Montes was sent to Mexico.
President Trump will confront a familiar figure in the lawsuit over a DREAMer who was deported by federal immigration agents: U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel.
He’s the judge who oversaw a lawsuit involving Trump University who Trump accused of being biased because of his “Mexican heritage.” Curiel, who was born in Indiana, approved a $25 million settlement between Trump and students who claimed they overpaid for real estate seminars. Trump didn’t admit any wrongdoing under the terms of the settlement.
Now, Curiel has been assigned to handle a lawsuit brought on behalf of Juan Manuel Montes, 23, a California resident who was deported in February despite being approved for the Deferred Actions for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which provides protective status for undocumented immigrants brought to the country as children.
Curiel’s assignment to the case was completely coincidental, according to rules for the Southern District of California. Kari Hong, an assistant professor at Boston College Law School who used to be an attorney in California, said judges are selected based on a rotating schedule. The court sets up a list of available judges and they are assigned each case as they come in.
Hong said judges regularly recuse themselves from cases if there is a conflict of interest, the appearance of a conflict of interest or if the judge has a financial stake in the outcome of the case. She said it’s highly unlikely Curiel would recuse himself based solely on the derogatory comments Trump made about him.
“Simply being attacked by the President isn’t a conflict of interest. If that were the standard, the entire 9th Circuit Court of Appeals couldn’t handle a single case,” she said, referring to the San Francisco-based appeals court that shot down Trump’s attempts to institute a travel ban against six majority-Muslim countries.