House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) attacked President Donald Trump on Tuesday based on a report that a protected "Dreamer" had been deported, but later details indicated the initial story was far from clear-cut.
USA Today reported that 23-year-old illegal immigrant Juan Manuel Montes was deported despite being protected under former President Barack Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Montes claims that he was approached in February by a Border Patrol agent in Calexico, California who took him into custody and did not allow him to provide proof of his DACA status. Supposedly, he was dropped off in Mexico in a matter of hours.
Previously, Trump had promised to honor Obama's DACA executive actions in the short term, saying that illegal immigrants who came to the country as children "shouldn't be very worried … I do have a big heart. We're going to take care of everybody."
Pelosi pounced on the USA Today story.
"Another promise cruelly broken by President Trump, this one with heartbreaking consequences for brave young DREAMers across the nation," she said in a statement. "Instead of honoring the protections of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals initiative, President Trump has unleashed an indiscriminate deportation dragnet of appalling inhumanity."
Other top Democrats denounced the supposed deportation, but were more measured in withholding judgment.
"I'm disturbed about reports that a Dreamer with DACA protection has been deported," Sen. Dick Durbin (D., Ill.) said in a statement. "I've contacted DHS to demand an explanation."
Sure enough, not long afterwards, the Department of Homeland Security challenged Montes' story. The department says Montes was arrested in Calexico, but only after being caught crossing the border.
"Juan Manuel Montes Bojorquez was apprehended by the Calexico Station Border Patrol after illegally entering the U.S. by climbing over the fence in downtown Calexico," a DHS spokeswoman said in a statement. "He was arrested by [Border Patrol] just minutes after he made his illegal entry and admitted under oath during the arrest interview that he had entered illegally."
DHS said Montes' DACA protection expired in 2015 and had not been renewed, citing department records. Montes also had been arrested for theft and sentenced to probation, although Montes' lawyers argue that conviction is not grounds for revocation of DACA protection.