DACA: ‘Dreamers’ include those arrested for murder, rape and other sex crimes
Ten people who’d been arrested on murder charges were nonetheless granted permission to remain and work in the U.S. under the Obama-era DACA amnesty, according to new government data released Monday.
Thirty-one “Dreamers” had rape charges on their records, nearly 500 had been accused of sex crimes, and more than 2,000 had been arrested for drunken driving — yet were approved for DACA status.
All told, 53,000 people who have been approved for DACA — 7 percent of the total — had a criminal record when the government granted them status. Nearly 8,000 racked up criminal charges after they’d been approved, according to the data from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
DACA turned six years old on Friday and is back in the news as the House of Representatives begins to debate whether to grant a broad amnesty to Dreamers, and as courts across the country grapple with the legality of the 2012 program.
The new data will likely affect both the legislative and court action, since it gives some indications of the levels of screening, and waivers, the government is willing to offer for Dreamers who apply.
All told more than 888,000 people have applied for DACA status over the years. Of those, more than 770,000 were approved. Nearly 67,000 were rejected — and of those, about 31 percent had criminal records, the data show.
The new data looks at arrests.
DACA’s eligibility requirements, though, were written to focus on convictions.
Under the rules laid out by the Obama administration, which are unchanged under President Trump, someone with a felony conviction, a “significant” misdemeanor or three non-significant misdemeanors was supposed to be ineligible.
“You have to have a conviction. You can be arrested a whole lot of times and get DACA,” USCIS Director Francis Cissna told Fox News.
Many traffic offenses, including driving without a license, don’t count against someone applying for DACA.
In theory, any criminal history at all, even if it didn’t cross the conviction thresholds, could have led to a discretionary denial. But the number of people approved with lengthy records suggests that didn’t always happen.
Two dozen Dreamers won DACA despite having more than 10 arrests on their record. More than 1,200 others had been arrested between five and nine times.
The new data didn’t break down the arrests or approvals by year so it’s not clear how many Dreamers with major arrests were approved during the Obama administration and how many came under Mr. Trump
The House this week is slated to debate an immigration bill that would grant citizenship rights to those in the DACA program, as well as perhaps 1 million other illegal immigrants.
The bill, like the DACA program, relies on convictions rather than arrests, so the Dreamers with more than 10 arrests and those with rape, murder and sex crime arrests could be eligible.
The GOP bill also specifically allows illegal immigrants convicted of smuggling people into the U.S. — a felony charge — to claim citizenship.
The reason for that exception is not clear, though smuggling cartels had increasingly seemed to be recruiting DACA recipients as drivers to smuggle illegal immigrants, judging by a spate of arrests earlier this year.
In one case Alejandro Castro, guilty of smuggling in San Diego, was sentenced to time served.
The crime carries a penalty of up to 10 years.
In Arizona, Saul Rodea Castro pleaded guilty and was sentenced to time served for smuggling four men from Mexico. He was the pickup man for a cartel that had arranged for the Mexicans to be smuggled across the border, at a cost of up to $8,000 per person.
In Texas DACA recipient David Luna-Martinez is awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty in April to carrying two illegal immigrants from Mexico for a smuggler.
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