The Latino judge who Donald Trump criticized on the campaign trail because of his ethnicity will preside over a high-profile immigration case this week.
The judge, Gonzalo Curiel, is from Indiana, but happens to be of Mexican heritage, a fact that Trump seized on when Curiel began to hear the fraud case against Trump University last year.
Curiel will now hear a case being brought against the Trump administration by Juan Manuel Montes, a 23-year-old DACA recipient who was deported to Mexico on Feb. 20. Montes’ lawyers say he was protected under DACA until 2018 and was not provided with an explanation of why he was being deported now.
Trump claimed that Curiel’s race—he first called him “Spanish,” then “Hispanic,” then “Mexican,” (Curiel is a U.S. citizen)—compromised his impartiality as a judge because of Trump’s anti-immigrant policies.
The then-Republican candidate for president doubled-down on his comments in several interviews and public appearances and with these tweets:
In June last year, he had this exchange with CNN’s Jake Tapper:
“He’s proud of his heritage. I respect him for that,” Trump said, dismissing charges that his allegation was racist. “He’s a Mexican. We’re building a wall between here and Mexico.”
At the end of a lengthy exchange, Tapper asked: “If you are saying he cannot do his job because of his race, is that not the definition of racism?”
“No, I don’t think so at all,” Trump said.
Trump’s comments were widely criticized, even by top figures within the Republican party who acknowledged that his comments were racist and improper for a presidential candidate.
“Claiming a person can’t do their job because of their race is sort of like the textbook definition of a racist comment,” House Speaker Paul Ryan said at the time.
Whether Trump will now continue to attack the judge on the basis of his ethnicity remains to be seen.
This post has been updated to properly reflect Judge Curiel’s ethnicity.