With the question of the constitutionality of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program before the Supreme Court, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has released a study showing that nearly 80,000 DACA recipients have arrest records ranging from immigration violations to rape and murder.
The study should add fuel to the fire if Congress were to try and make DACA recipients legal.
Before jumping to conclusions, both sides should consider what exactly the USCIS studied.
The data released Saturday by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) shows only arrests or apprehensions for a criminal offense or an immigration-related civil offense and does not take into account whether there was a conviction, acquittal, dismissal or a lessening of charges.
This is important when giving weight to the study and judging its relevance. Getting arrested doesn’t make you a felon and given the kinds of offenses that the overwhelming number of DACA recipients were arrested for, it certainly doesn’t make one a violent or dangerous criminal.
But perhaps recipients of DACA should be subject to more scrutiny.
The report finds that of the nearly 889,000 applicants for the DACA program, 110,000 had arrest records. Of the more than 765,000 approved for DACA, 79,398 had arrest records. Of that number, 67,861 were arrested before their most recent DACA approval, while 15,903 were arrested after their most recent approval.
The offenses incurred by DACA requestors who were arrested before their most recent approval include battery (3,421), assault (3,308), burglary, breaking and entering (1,471), rape (62), murder (15) and theft or larceny (7,926). The largest population arrested were suspected of driving-related offenses excluding DUIs (23,305) and immigration-related offenses (12,968.)
USCIS Acting Director Ken Cuccinelli, well known for his anti-DACA views, issued a statement:
“As DACA continues to be the subject of both public discourse and ongoing litigation, USCIS remains committed to ensuring transparency and that the American people are informed about those receiving DACA,” USCIS Acting Director Ken Cuccinelli said in a statement.
“This agency is obligated to continue accepting DACA requests from illegal aliens as a direct result of the previous administration’s decision to circumvent the laws as passed by Congress. We hope this data provides a better sense of the reality of those granted the privilege of a temporary deferral of removal action and work authorization under DACA,” he said.
The “reality” is that the Supreme Court is likely to find the program unconstitutional. But there is a strong sense in Congress on both sides of the aisle, that punishing someone who was brought here illegally by their illegal parents, shouldn’t have to suffer the consequences.
The president must have gotten a sneak peek at the report. He tweeted this a few days ago:
Many of the people in DACA, no longer very young, are far from “angels.” Some are very tough, hardened criminals. President Obama said he had no legal right to sign order, but would anyway. If Supreme Court remedies with overturn, a deal will be made with Dems for them to stay!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 12, 2019
I’m sure that part of that deal will be to prevent violent convicted felons from being allowed to stay in the country. But what about the others? Should drunk drivers be deported? Should a previous civil immigration violation be a reason to kick an otherwise law-abiding illegal out of the country?
These are questions for Congress as the issue of DACA once again comes before it.