UPDATE, 3 p.m.: Per Jazz Shaw at Hot Air (bolds are mine), “CNN is now reporting that one aspect of the story is more complicated. A second check of Montes’ records by DHS reveals that he actually did have his DACA status renewed in 2016, good through 2018. BUT… that status is dependent on following the rules, including getting permission before leaving the country. In light of that, his DACA status was null once he left country (whenever that happened) prior to being detected illegally crossing the border back into the United States in February. Net result? The same situation applies. He was no longer covered by DACA.”
Apparently, and quite unlike during the Obama administration, there are people sitting in establishment press newsrooms monitoring every move the Immigration and Customs and Enforcement agency makes, ready to pounce any time it thinks the agency might have made a mistake in detaining or deporting someone. Just before 5 p.m. Eastern Time Tuesday afternoon, USA Today thought it had hit the jackpot, blasting out an email claiming that the “First Protected DREAMer” had been “deported under President Trump.” The Daily Caller has reported that USA Today is wrong.
The original USA Today email and the web page to which it carries for a browser view emphasize how the deportation allegedly represents a broken Donald Trump promise:
The underlying USA Today story was posted a few minutes before the email was distributed, but was revised at roughly 9 p.m. on Tuesday. Its opening currently reads as follows:
First protected DREAMer is deported under Trump
Federal agents ignored President Trump’s pledge to protect from deportation undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children by sending a young man back to his native Mexico, the first such documented case, a USA TODAY examination of the new administration’s immigration policies shows.
After spending an evening with his girlfriend in Calexico, Calif., on Feb. 17, Juan Manuel Montes, 23, who has lived in the U.S. since age 9, grabbed a bite and was waiting for a ride when a U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer approached and started asking questions.
Montes was twice granted deportation protections under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program created by President Barack Obama and left intact by President Trump.
Montes had left his wallet in a friend’s car, so he couldn’t produce his ID or proof of his DACA status and was told by agents he couldn’t retrieve them. Within three hours, he was back in Mexico, becoming the first undocumented immigrant with active DACA status deported by the Trump administration’s stepped-up deportation policy.
Barely two hours after USA Today’s original report, Alex Pfeiffer at the Daily Caller appeared to debunk it. Unlike USA Today in its original coverage, Pfeiffer was able to quote a named spokesperson from the Department of Homeland Security to support his story:
DHS: USA Today Got Its Big Scoop On Deported ‘DREAMer’ Totally Wrong
USA Today reported Tuesday that an illegal immigrant protected by Barack Obama’s amnesty was deported in February after spending an evening with his girlfriend. However, a Department of Homeland Security spokesman told The Daily Caller that this story is false because Juan Manuel Montes Bojorquez did not receive amnesty and was caught climbing over a border fence when he was detained.
… David Lapan, a DHS spokesman, told TheDC, “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. He was arrested by BP just minutes after he made his illegal entry and admitted under oath during the arrest interview that he had entered illegally.”
The spokesman added, “His DACA status expired in Aug. 2015 and he was notified at that time. In addition, he has a conviction for theft for which he received probation.”
There’s obviously quite a difference between the two stories. Barring coercion, the admission under oath claimed by DHS spokesman Lapan, if true, would seal the deal for the Daily Caller’s version of the story.
USA Today’s story in its current form, i.e., revised at roughly 9 p.m. Tuesday, looks like an attempt to respond to the Pfeiffer’s Daily Caller work without crediting it, as seen in these later paragraphs:
After USA TODAY published the story, the Department of Homeland Security — which had refused a request for comment for 24 hours — said it could not confirm details of Montes’ deportation. Spokeswoman Jenny Burke said the department had no record of him renewing his DACA status after it expired in 2015, even though Montes’ attorneys provided a copy of his work authorization card that showed his DACA status was valid through 2018.
A group of attorneys filed a lawsuit in federal court in California on Tuesday requesting that a judge force Customs and Border Protection to release details of the agent’s encounter with Montes.
Note that USA Today relied entirely on Montes’ version of the story in the first four paragraphs seen earlier, and failed to give it any semblance of doubt, i.e., although they appear later, nowhere do we see the words “Montes said” in the critical early paragraphs where he recounts the actual episode. Even now, after Pfeiffer’s Daily Caller post, we’re just supposed to accept Montes’ version of how it went down. When only one side is presented, a story’s subject is not presumptively entitled to that.
Whether the details get released or not, if Montes made an uncoerced admission, Pfeiffer’s work stands, and USA Today’s is false. The circumstances as currently known would appear to point in that direction.
Additionally, the theft conviction DHS’s Lapan cited is likely a very relevant factor. That’s because the Supreme Court last year, in a 4-4 tie, “blocked from going into effect” President Obama’s 2012 executive order protecting so-called “DREAMers” from deportation, returning the issue to the related lower court. Since Obama’s order is properly not considered enforceable in any jurisdiction because the President lacks the authority to unilaterally legislate under the Constitution, it would appear that Montes’ conviction for the aggravated felony of theft, as long as the sentence (including any probationary period) was for one year or more, would flag his deportation as required.
USA Today’s updated story claims that Montes’ conviction record ”for shoplifting in January 2016, and three for driving without a license, most recently three months ago” somehow is “not serious enough to disqualify him from DACA protections, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.” But it cited a document which would seem to be irrelevant, given where DACA stands in the courts.
USA Today has not issued a revised email indicating that the facts as it originally reported are in dispute. Thus, the thousands of people on their email list have no reason to doubt that the mean, evil Donald Trump administration has broken its sacred promise and deported a sweet, innocent “DREAMer.”
Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.