As the Supreme Court weighs President Trump’s decision to end former President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, a report recently released by the Department of Homeland Security shows that almost 80,000 of the program’s beneficiaries were given amnesty under the program despite having a prior arrest record.
The report, released by the Department of Homeland Security over the weekend, lays out numbers for applications and denials in the program going back to its 2012 inception. It details that of the 888,818 total applicants for the program, roughly 110,000 had an arrest record.
Of the program’s 765,166 total recipients (otherwise known as “Dreamers”), 79,398 of them were approved for delayed action status despite having a prior arrest record. Of those, just under 25,000 had more than one arrest. The data from Table 3 of the document shows that just over 25,000 of those arrests were for driving-related charges, almost 13,000 were from immigration-related offenses, almost 8,000 were for theft, almost 7,000 were for drugs, and over 4,200 were for driving under the influence. Furthermore, 62 had been charged with rape, 259 had been charged with sexual abuse or statutory rape, and 15 had been charged with murder.
But a prior arrest (or arrests) is not necessarily a disqualifying factor for amnesty under the current design of the DACA program, which is meant to shield from deportation illegal aliens brought to the United States as minors. Applicants are disqualified outright from the program if they are guilty of a felony, a “significant misdemeanor,” or three “non-significant” misdemeanors, a United States Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS) news release accompanying the report explains.
“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.”
The new numbers follow a report from June of last year that found that just under 60,000 of those granted DACA amnesty status had prior arrest records.
The year before that, Conservative Review’s Daniel Horowitz made the case that — based on information gathered through a Freedom of Information Act request — the Obama administration did not vet DACA applicants properly and “cut corners on its own criteria to get as many people signed up as possible.”
President Trump announced an end to the DACA program in September 2017, months after he first took office. The move — as with almost every major immigration action taken by the Trump administration — was met with an immediate lawsuit and tied subsequently tied up in federal litigation. Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case and reportedly appeared to lean in the president’s direction on the matter.