Thousands of participants in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program had prior arrest records, according to statistics released by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services on Saturday.
The DACA program, implemented in 2012 by the Obama administration via executive action, allowed illegal immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children to request a two-year deportation deferment. In 2017, The Trump administration moved to end the program, which has since ceased accepting new applicants but has been kept alive through various legal challenges.
The report by USCIS shows that 79,398 approved DACA recipients, or about ten percent of total DACA recipients, had been arrested since arriving in the U.S. Several thousands of those arrested had committed theft, DUI, assault, battery, or more serious violent and/or sexual offenses.
However, USCIS also noted in a statement that the number of arrests does not necessarily disqualify DACA applicants. Those with arrest records may not have been convicted, and charges may have been dropped against suspects.
“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,” commented USCIS Acting Director Ken Cuccinelli.
On November 12, the Supreme Court heard arguments for and against termination of DACA. The conservative majority of justices seemed inclined to endorse the Trump administration’s claim that maintaining the unconstitutional program exceeds the scope of presidential authority, although it is not yet clear when the court will rule on the matter.
President Trump implied on Twitter the same day that many DACA recipients had criminal backgrounds.
“Many of the people in DACA, no longer very young, are far from ‘angels.’ Some are very tough, hardened criminals,” Trump wrote. However, the President also said he would be open to a “deal” with Democrats to allow DACA recipients to stay in the U.S.