Los Angeles

Man Says He Was Deported to Mexico Despite Proving US Citizenship

Carlos Montoya's birth certificate shows he was born in Los Angeles in 1977. But when he tried to come back to the U.S. from Mexico on March 1, he says border agents deported him.

"I showed them everything," he said, admitting he struggles with English. "And they took everything away from me."

Montoya, who showed his birth certificate to NBC4, says he spent the last year in Mexico undergoing treatment for epilepsy but had been traveling back and forth to Mexico for treatment every six months before then.

He says he always carried his birth certificate, social security card, and California ID card and had no problems. But he says when he scanned his fingerprints this time, something very different came up on the border patrol’s screen.

Attorney Luis Carrillo who now represents Montoya, explained.

"What pops up on the screen is a photo of another individual and they turn the screen and they show him," Carillo said. "And Carlos says, 'That’s an impostor, ‘yo soy Carlos Montoya,’ and they say, 'No, you’re the impostor.' And he says, 'No, I’m Carlos Montoya."

Montoya's sister said her brother was born in Los Angeles in 1977 and has spent much of his life in Mexico, particularly recently as, she says, medication and treatment for epilepsy is cheaper there.

The Chief Customs and Border Patrol Office and Public Affairs Liaison in San Diego, Angelica De Cima provided this statement to NBC4:

“While we are not at liberty to discuss an individual’s processing due to the Privacy Act, we can provide general information about document requirements for U.S. citizens. As part of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI), U.S. citizens entering the United States at sea or land ports of entry have been required to present a WHTI-compliant document such as a valid passport, U.S. passport card, Trusted Traveler Program card or an Enhanced Driver’s License since June 2009. For more information about documents required to enter the U.S. please click on (this) link."

Montoya couldn’t provide anything else, admitting he did not have a passport, so he said after a four-hour interrogation and two nights in a jail cell, he felt forced to do whatever the border agent told him.

He claims he was coerced to come up with a fake name — he says he chose Jose Francisco Garcia-Garcia — and to sign the paperwork that would deport him back to Mexico. Among the questions he says he was forced to answer falsely — that he was born in Mexico and that he had never been to the United States.

Carrillo is asking the U.S. Inspector General to investigate the case, claiming coercion, incompetence and even corruption. All the while, Montoya remains in Nayarit, Mexico, hoping to come back home to Compton, California.

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