As President Donald Trump comes closer to possibly ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which has effectively legalized roughly 886,000 illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, the mainstream media are insisting no DACA recipients have committed crimes.
On MSNBC on Friday, Ali Velshi, while interviewing Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, said, “By definition, if you are in DACA, you can’t have committed a crime. If you committed a crime, you’re out.”
This is false.
The DACA program, created under former President Barack Obama by means of a memo issued by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano in June 2012, says that in order to be eligible for DACA, a person must have come to this country before age 16, lived here continuously for five years, been present in the country at the time the memo was issued, not have committed a felony or a “significant” misdemeanor, and not have committed “multiple misdemeanor offenses.”
This means that certainly, some percentage of the 886,000 people who’ve been approved for DACA — and have been able to live without fear of deportation and work legally in the U.S. for a two-year period — have criminal records.
John Manely, an immigration lawyer in Los Angeles, instructs potential DACA applicants on his website to consult with an attorney if they have a criminal record. He points out that the federal government has emphasized that it has discretion when making decisions about DACA eligibility.
“It basically means that [the Department of Homeland Security, or DHS] can look at the totality of circumstances when analyzing a criminal record,” he writes. “My interpretation is that DHS can look at the underlying conduct and not merely the conviction to deny a DACA application.”
He goes on to write that “significant” misdemeanors, including domestic battery, would usually disqualify someone from DACA, but that a less serious domestic battery charge in California that does not involve violence and does not involve a sentence of more than 90 days would not count as a “significant” misdemeanor and therefore would not disqualify someone from DACA.
“A battery could be the slightest bit of force, or an unwanted touching. This should qualify as a non-significant misdemeanor in that it is not an offense of domestic violence and typically does not have a sentence of more than 90 days,” he writes on his website.
Attorneys writing at the legal help site Nolo.com also addressed the issue of what constitutes a “significant” misdemeanor for purposes of DACA eligibility, listing those misdemeanors that involved domestic violence, sexual abuse or exploitation, burglary, unlawful possession, use of a firearm, drug distribution, or trafficking, or DUI/DWI.
But a person could have several misdemeanors that don’t fall under one of these categories and still be approved for DACA, they write, “if the misdemeanors arose out of the same set of facts on the same date, USCIS [U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services] may look upon that misconduct as one misdemeanor rather than multiple misdemeanors.”
How many of the young adults now in the DACA program have been convicted of battery either before being granted DACA status, or after? We don’t know.
How many in DACA were convicted of three or more misdemeanors but were still granted what amounts to almost-legal status? We don’t know.
But we have a better idea of how many DACA participants have committed other kinds of crimes — crimes involving fraud in order to work in the U.S. when they are not legally present in the U.S. and not legally allowed to work.
Most DACA recipients “have committed multiple felonies in order to get jobs,” wrote Ronald Mortensen of the Center for Immigration Studies in a March 2017 report, listing the crimes: “Social Security fraud, forgery, perjury on I-9 forms, falsification of green cards and driver’s licenses, identity theft, etc.”
“‘Dreamers’ [for the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act] continue to commit these job-related crimes right up to the day their DACA status is approved and they obtain work permits and their own genuine Social Security numbers,” he wrote.
What’s even more shocking is to see that the federal government has not only turned a blind eye to these crimes, and not reported them to law enforcement, but has specifically instructed DACA recipients to withhold information on DACA application forms that would implicate them.
“The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services guidance provided in their Frequently Asked Questions tells illegal alien dreamers to exclude their fraudulently obtained/used Social Security numbers in item 9 of Form I-765, even though this item specifically asks for a list of Social Security Numbers previously used,” Mortensen writes.
The agency also instructs employers to overlook the felonies an employee committed to get hired, telling them to simply replace the old I-9 form, which contained a phony Social Security number, with the new one containing the new Social Security number issued to the dreamer.
Thus the federal government has become complicit in covering up crimes committed by dreamers, and asking private corporations to do the same, where American citizens would be swiftly convicted for the same or similar offenses.
President Trump is expected to announce by Tuesday whether he’ll cancel the DACA program. Politico reported Sunday evening that he has decided to end the program after a six-month delay, to give Congress a chance to pass a law that might allow dreamers to stay in the U.S., rather than face deportation.
(photo credit, homepage image: Jonathan McIntosh; photo credit, article image: Elvert Barnes, Flickr)