Are DREAMers safe from deportation?

Donald Trump hasn't repealed DACA but is deportation still a concern for students with this protection status?

PHOENIX – Juan Manuel Montes, 23, has made headlines recently after Border Patrol agents deported him even though he had deferred action protections.

There is an outcry of support for Montes, because he was under the DACA umbrella.

PREVIOUS: First protected DREAMer is deported under Trump

That leads us to the question: Are DACA students safe from deportation? The answer is no.

Here's why: Much like other immigrants who negotiate a stay of removal with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (often with the help of an attorney), which may delay their deportation, DACA recipients must meet requirements.

"There is a good moral character component in that you cannot have been convicted of a significant misdemeanor,” said Nic Suriel, a Phoenix-based immigration attorney.

Customs and Border Protection officials said Montes had a conviction for theft.

His attorneys agree, and it could keep him out of the U.S.

On the other side of the coin, getting pulled over is an example of a situation that likely wouldn't get a DACA student deported.

"But once you cross a threshold -- so if you drive impaired -- that’s a criminal offense," said Curiel.

Traveling is also restricted under DACA unless at least one of the requirements is met.

"Business, education or humanitarian -- which is a broad category,” said Curiel. “You'd have to have a doctor's note [that] your mother is sick in Mexico, and you want to go see her."

The Department of Homeland Security shows 43 former DACA enrollees were deported in the first month of Donald Trump's presidency.

Compare that to the 365 deported former DACA enrollees during Obama's second term in the White House. It comes down to about an average of seven per month.

So the fear for DACA students is very real.

"We saw a need here at ASU to start this club to make sure DACA students would be protected,” said Edder Diaz Martinez.

Diaz is an ASU student and the co-found of the group Undocumented Students for Education Equity (USEE).

He's afraid his mother's sacrifices to bring him to Arizona from Mexico City won't be worth it if either one of them were to be deported.

"Economic opportunities. The ability to capitalize," he said. "Really, it was for her children: A better education, have a better lifestyle."

© 2017 KPNX-TV


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