In a curious case of karma, the judge whom President Trump suggested could be biased against him due to his "Mexican heritage" will be presiding over the latest DREAMer case. The Trump administration hasn't been doing very well with the courts — both travel bans have been blocked — so it is quite the coincidence that the judge Trump criticized is ruling on a DREAMer case. The assignment is purely coincidental.
According to the rules of the Southern District of California, the cases are assigned on a rotating basis, according to a USA Today report that broke the story. An assistant professor at Boston College Law School who used to practice law in California, Kari Hong, told USA Today that the court utilizes a prepared list of available judges while assigning the cases that come in according to chronological order.
If you remember, during the campaign, Trump attacked Curiel, a U.S. district judge, who was ruling on the Trump University class-action lawsuits. He said that Curiel — a native of Indiana — might be biased because of his "Mexican heritage." Many objected to Trump's comments.
"I do not feel that one's heritage makes them incapable of being impartial, but, based on the rulings that I have received in the Trump University civil case, I feel justified in questioning whether I am receiving a fair trial," Trump said at the time.
The case at hand now relates to a DREAMer who was deported despite having DACA status, according to his lawyer. That's the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that was put in place by former President Obama through an executive order. Trump has not revoked the program, but his administration's support for it is much more tepid.
Juan Manuel Montes, the plaintiff, was at a friend's house when Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials arrived. Montes' wallet was reportedly in the car, and so he couldn't prove his legal status. Shortly after, he was deported to Mexico. Executive director of National Immigration Law Center, Marielena Hincapié, questioned this practice on air on NBC News.
"How is it possible that in the United States of America you can be walking and be stopped by Border Patrol, and then disappeared and sent to another country because you don't have your wallet on you?" she asked.
As for Trump potentially putting up a fight about this judge taking the case, he doesn't have much of a leg to stand on. Hong, the law professor, explained why to USA Today. "Simply being attacked by the President isn't a conflict of interest. If that were the standard, the entire 9th Circuit Court of Appeals couldn't handle a single case," Hong explained. (Trump criticized the Ninth Circuit Court after it blocked his first travel ban.)
Obviously, this is all just happenstance, but it truly seems like karma at work.