BY RAFAEL BERNAL - 03/10/17 04:17 PM EST


Members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) panned federal immigration authorities Friday for a series of tweets warning that recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program are subject to deportation.

The tweets were sent from the official account of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the agency in charge of interior immigration enforcement.

"It is shameful that ICE is ratcheting up fear and terror in young people who courageously stepped out of the shadows, got right with the law, and applied for DACA," said CHC Chairwoman Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-N.M.).

Under former President Obama's DACA program, qualifying undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children are granted a work permit and relief from deportation based on their migratory status.

"Deferred action may be revoked anytime especially when someone commits a crime or poses a national security of public safety threat," ICE wrote Thursday in a quick succession of tweets. "Deferred action does not prevent DHS from executing a removal order."

One of the tweets, however, said DACA recipients "are typically a lower level of enforcement priority."

"DHSs recent tweets make clear what many of us have known for some time: Donald Trump and this administration are more interested in deporting immigrants than they are in protecting families or retaining talent for our workforce," said Rep. Ral Grijalva (D-Ariz.).

In a statement, an ICE official reiterated the information posted to Twitter.

"Aliens granted deferred action from deportation are not protected by any kind of legal status, but are typically given a lower level of enforcement priority," the official said. "A decision to grant deferred action may be revoked by DHS at any time, particularly in the case of someone who commits a crime or is otherwise found to pose a national security or public safety threat."

Deportation cases involving DACA recipients, also known as "Dreamers," after the failed Dream Act, have gained national attention recently.

The program was Obama's signature immigration measure, which President Trump pledged to repeal on the campaign trail. Trump has held off on fulfilling that pledge amid popular support for Dreamers.

Daniela Vargas, a DACA recipient from Mississippi, was released Friday after being in detention for 10 days. Her lawyers attributed her release in part to the national attention given to her case.

In a call on Vargas's case, Karen Tumlin, legal director of the National Immigration Law Center, said that release was "a sigh of relief" but warned that other recipients of the program were still in detention.

"Daniel Ramirez, a DACA recipient, is facing his 24th birthday in detention," Tumlin said.

Ramirez was arrested in February and accused of involvement in gang activities, a claim his lawyers denied.

One of the ICE tweets made a specific reference to gang affiliation among recipients.

"Since the start of DACA in 2012, DHS has terminated deferred action for approx. 1,500 recipients due to criminality or gang affiliation," the tweet read.

But Democrats said the tweets, and immigration actions against DACA recipients, were designed to create fear.

"Tweeting out that every DACA recipient is vulnerable to deportation is just another way this President is trying to create fear in immigrant communities, to make families and children think that their government could come after them at any time," said Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.).

"It is disgusting behavior on the part of the Department of Homeland Security and the White House and it needs to stop."