Donald Trump called Judge Gonzalo Curiel a “Mexican” and now that very same judge will hear a high-profile deportation case that challenges the Trump administration’s stance on immigration.
President Trump also called the judge a “hater,” just before he was randomly assigned to the lawsuit.
The case involves Juan Manuel Montes, who says he was deported from California in February, despite living in the US since he was a child.
US immigration officials say the 23-year-old voluntarily left the US for Mexico. A claim that has not been verified at this time.
Immigration advocates and critics say the lawsuit validates their stance that President Trump is arbitrarily deporting US residents.
Lawyers in the case say Montes has lived in the US since he was nine years old. He was deported after being stopped on February 17 by Border Patrol officials in the border city of Calexico, California.
When arrested, the plaintiff told border officials that he was protected under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (Daca), an Obama-era program that allows children who were brought illegally to the United States to stay in the country.
Montes, who suffers from a cognitive disability from a brain injury, says he was deported to Mexico, even though he should be legally protected under Obama’s immigration rules.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) claims to have no record of Montes being deported on February 17. The DHS admits to having a record of Montes attempting to climb a border fence on February 19.
His lawyers concede he climbed the fence, but only after being unfairly deported.over the border fence, but only because he had been unfairly deported in the first place.
If the judge determines that Montes was illegally detained on February 17, he would be protected under Daca. If he left without permission and attempted to return, he would have been re-entering the country illegally.
The DHS also attempted to claim that his Daca support expired in 2015, only to backtrack and update their records to show a 2018 expiration date.enrolment had expired in 2015, but it acknowledged on Wednesday that his status was valid until 2018.
Advocates point to the case as proof that President Trump is backing down on his promise not to deport nearly 750,000 immigrants who have been awarded Daca status.
It’s believed Montes is the first “Dreamer” to be illegally deported by the Trump administration.
US District Judge Gonzalo Curiel previously presided over a lawsuit involving students who claimed fraud after paying to attend real estate seminars branded as Trump University.
During that lawsuit, Trump said the judge’s “Mexican heritage” meant that he would not rule fairly in the case. The judge later approved a $25 million settlement in the case.
No court date has been set.