On November 16, 2019, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued a press release that highlighted arrests and convictions among the 888,818 aliens who have requested Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). It relates to a November 2019 update on the USCIS report "DACA Requestors with an IDENT Response". To say that it is eye-opening and goes against the popular narrative would be an understatement.
The update explains:
The Automated Biometric Identification System (IDENT) is the central DHS-wide system for storage and processing of biometric and associated biographic information for national security; law enforcement; immigration and border management; intelligence; background investigations for national security positions and certain positions of public trust; and associated testing, training, management reporting, planning and analysis, or other administrative uses.
It continues: "An IDENT response indicates that an alien, in this case a DACA requestor, was arrested or apprehended for a criminal offense or an immigration-related civil offense." In other words, an IDENT "hit" reveals a prior "touch" with a law-enforcement agency.
Among the points in that press release:
Nearly 110,000 DACA requestors out of nearly 889,000 (12%) had arrest records. Offenses in these arrest records include assault, battery, rape, murder and driving under the influence.
Of approved DACA requestors with an arrest, 85% (67,861) of them were arrested or apprehended before their most recent DACA approval.
Of approved DACA requestors with an arrest, more than 31% (24,898) of them had more than one arrest.
Of all DACA requestors, 218 had more than 10 arrests. Of those, 54 had a DACA case status of "approved" as of October 2019.
Digging into the update, 765,166 aliens were approved for DACA. Of those aliens, 79,398, or 10.38 percent, had an arrest. As noted above, of that 79,398, 67,861 DACA requestors were approved despite that prior arrest, and 15,903 were arrested after their DACA requests were approved.
Of the aliens who requested DACA who also (before or after that request) had an arrest: 4,210 were arrested for driving under the influence (DUI); 7,926 were arrested for theft, larceny, or an associated offense; 3,421 were arrested for battery; 3,308 were arrested for assault; 1,471 were arrested for burglary, breaking and entering, or an associated offense; 1,360 were rested for offenses against family and/or children; 259 were arrested for sexual abuse, statutory rape, or associated offenses (not counting the 428 other illegal sex-related acts and 62 arrested for rape); 173 for kidnapping, trafficking, and false imprisonment; and 15 for murder. To name a few crimes.
As for the idea that DACA is a form of protection for "eligible immigrant youth", the update reveals that 87,059 DACA requestors with an arrest were between the ages of 19 and 22 at the time of that arrest, 46,147 were between the ages of 23 and 26, and 16,872 were between the ages of 27 and 30. Incredibly, some 387 were age 35 or over.
Of course, not all suspects who are arrested are guilty, and none of this suggests that all DACA applicants are criminals, or that the majority of crimes in this country are committed by aliens. It does counter, however, the popular narrative of DACA being comprised of "straight-arrow young people with no criminal record", who are trapped between a heartless immigration system and the "only country they have ever known".
I have gotten to experience this narrative up close and personal. On March 6, 2019, I testified at a hearing before the House Committee on the Judiciary captioned "Protecting Dreamers and TPS Recipients". Among the witnesses were a South Korean national identified as a "DACA Recipient, Harvard University Undergraduate Student, Rhodes Scholar" and a Mexican national identified as a "DACA Recipient, University of New Mexico Medical Student". There is nothing wrong with the majority (in this case, Democrats) introducing witnesses who are consistent with their points of view, and they picked two of the best.
I do take offense, however, that rather than asking whether these witnesses were indicative of the DACA population as a whole, the majority questioned whether I knew specific people (not DACA recipients) or had read a specific book (not DACA-related as far as I know because I have never read it). The committee, which assumed the files and staff of the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), seemed to be reinventing itself as HUAC. In doing so, they were wasting my time, and the American people's money.
I also am saddened by the media's inability to present the DACA population as a whole, relying instead on specific role models within that population to prove their points about the importance of what was, in my opinion, an example of unconstitutional executive-branch overreach that interfered with the authority of Congress. What passes for journalism on the issue is all too often ill-informed opinion at best, and blatant advocacy at worst.
It is no wonder that USCIS feels the need to set the record straight. Don't expect to see much reporting on the update, however.