WASHINGTON (CBSNewYork/AP) — As the Supreme Court continues to weigh the fate of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, U.S. immigration officials have released a new report revealing the arrest records of many immigrants who were approved for DACA — including thousands in New York and New Jersey.
According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, just under 80,000 of the country’s DACA recipients were approved despite having at least one arrest prior to applying for the program. Of those arrests, thousands were for violent crimes including murder, assault, and various sex crimes.
USCIS reports that — of the 79,398 people approved for DACA after being arrested — over 3,300 had been charged with assault, over 300 faced sexual abuse or rape charges, and 15 DACA requestors were approved despite being arrested for murder.
The Nov. 16 report does not detail who was arrested for which crime in each state however, USCIS says between 2,500 and 10,000 New York residents had an arrest record when they filed for immigration protection. Those arrest numbers were the same for DACA requestors from New Jersey.
Authorities noted that the majority of the arrests were for non-violent acts such as driving and immigration-related offenses. 765,166 people have been approved for DACA; 90 percent of them have not been arrested.
“One person can ruin it for everybody, given the fact DACA is such a sensitive program and it’s temporary, I think one bad decision puts everything at risk,” Texas college student and “dreamer” Genesis Hernandez told CBS-affiliate KGBT.
The DACA program allows immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children — known as dreamers — to work or attend school legally while protecting them from deportation.
The program was launched under former President Barack Obama. The Trump administration announced in September 2017 that it would end DACA protections, but lower federal courts have stepped in to keep the program alive.
President Donald Trump tweeted last month that if the Supreme Court overturns the immigrants’ protections “a deal will be made with the Dems for them to stay!” But Trump’s past promises to work with Democrats on a legislative solution for these immigrants have not led to an agreement.
Many of the people in DACA, no longer very young, are far from “angels.” Some are very tough, hardened criminals. President Obama said he had no legal right to sign order, but would anyway. If Supreme Court remedies with overturn, a deal will be made with Dems for them to stay!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 12, 2019
The president said in his tweet that many program participants are “far from ‘angels,” and claimed that “some are very tough, hardened criminals.” The USCIS report was released four days after Trump’s charge.
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Although USCIS released the arrest records, they made it clear that their report does not mean those arrests led to a conviction or jail time.
“An arrest indicates the alien was arrested or apprehended only and does not mean the alien was convicted of a crime… Aliens may not have been charged with a crime resulting from the arrest, may have had their charges reduced or dismissed entirely, or may have been acquitted of any charges,” the reports states.
The program reportedly bars anyone with a felony conviction from participating. Serious misdemeanors may also bar eligibility.
The high court’s decision is expected by June of next year, at the height of the 2020 presidential campaign.
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)