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Five years later, nearly 80,000 DACA recipients have arrest records

Thu Jun 20 2024
MXM Exclusive

Quick Hit: 

In the first five years of the DACA program, 79,000 recipients admitted to the U.S. had arrest records. A new report found some recipients “may have obtained lawful immigration status, failed to request renewal.”

Key Details: 

  • Majority of DACA recipients arrested were between 19 and 22 years old.
  • President Biden expanded deportation protections and job opportunities for DACA recipients on DACA's 12th anniversary.
  • While supporters argue for citizenship, critics demand deportation for those with criminal records.

Diving Deeper: 

Within five years of a new program created to prevent the deportation of minors brought into the country illegally by their parents, nearly 80,000 were released into the U.S. with arrest records.

The majority of these individuals were between the ages of 19 and 22 when arrested, according to the latest data published by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This comes as President Joe Biden announced an expansion of deportation protections and job opportunities for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program recipients on Tuesday, marking the 12-year anniversary of the program initiated by former President Barack Obama in 2012.

DACA applies to those brought into the U.S. before age 16 and under age 31 as of June 15, 2012, among other criteria. Despite a federal judge ruling the program illegal twice, and ongoing legal battles led by Texas and other states to end DACA, it continues to provide benefits to many. 

While supporters of DACA argue that recipients contribute to the U.S. economy and society and should be granted citizenship, critics highlight the criminal records of some recipients as grounds for deportation. The USCIS report revealed that from June 2012 to October 2019, nearly 80,000 illegal foreign nationals with prior arrest records, including for violent crimes, were granted DACA status. Out of 888,818 DACA requests, 765,166 were approved, including 79,398 with an arrest record, representing 10.38% of applicants.

Moreover, 77,833 requests were either denied or had their DACA status terminated, with 30,132 having an arrest record, accounting for 38.71%. The report also noted that some DACA recipients might have obtained lawful immigration status or failed to request renewal.

Specific offenses among DACA recipients include over 25,300 for driving-related crimes excluding DUI, nearly 13,000 for immigration-related offenses, and thousands for theft, drug-related crimes, DUI, battery, assault, and obstruction.

The report identified that the majority of those arrested were nationals of Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Brazil, and Peru, with the highest number of arrests occurring in California, Texas, and Illinois. It also highlighted that 41 recipients were granted DACA despite being arrested more than ten times, with others arrested multiple times as well.

The Department of Homeland Security warns that DACA recipients who misrepresent information or fail to disclose facts to obtain DACA or work authorization will face criminal prosecution or removal from the U.S. 

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