The judge who Donald Trump once said was incapable of rendering a fair verdict towards him due to his “Mexican heritage” will now oversee a lawsuit against a California DREAMer who was deported in February, USA Today reports.
U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel will rule on the lawsuit brought by 23-year old Juan Manuel Montes, a California resident who was approved for protected immigrant status under the Deferred Actions for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
Montes has lived in the United States since he was nine. Having previously been granted deportation protections twice through DACA, he was picked up by U.S. Customs and Border Protection on Feb 17—despite Trump signaling he would leave the Obama-era policy in place.
"They shouldn't be very worried," Trump told ABC News in January about DREAMers fearing deportation. "I do have a big heart."
But despite Trump’s promise, Montes was deported. And according to a suit filed Tuesday in the U.S. District Court, the government failed to provide any documentation on the merits of his deportation.
That suit will be taken up by Curiel, who drew the president’s ire during the 2016 presidential election as he oversaw a fraud case against Trump University. Then-candidate Trump railed against Curiel as a “hater” who couldn’t possibly be impartial because of Trump’s campaign pledge to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border. Curiel was born in Indiana.
Curiel was assigned to the case by coincidence, USA Today reports, and according to Kari Hong—an assistant professor at Boston College Law School—it’s unlikely he will recuse himself.
"Simply being attacked by the President isn't a conflict of interest,” Hong said. “If that were the standard, the entire 9th Circuit Court of Appeals couldn't handle a single case.”