In The Wind: DACA Recipients Gone Bad

January 25, 2018

The U.S. government has deported 562 DACA recipients for their involvement in gangs and various criminal enterprises.

That’s the good news, sort of.

The not-so-good news is that more than twice as many terminated beneficiaries of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program remain free to roam around the country.

Responding to queries by Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services acknowledged that, as of Nov. 22, 2017, 535 criminal DACA beneficiaries had been released from custody and 940 had “no record of removal, detention or release.”

So 1,475 DACA recipients had their status revoked for committing crimes, but USCIS has no idea where they are. Officially, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security says it is “unable to statistically report on the number who remain in the country.”

Adding to the confusion, current law does not automatically bar gang members from receiving immigration benefits such as green cards, work permits and Temporary Protected Status.

Whatever fix Congress intends for Barack Obama’s extra-legal DACA order, lawmakers must plug these glaring gaps. Any legislation that fails to do so cannot be taken seriously. (Attention: Sens. Lindsay Graham, Dick Durbin and the Gang of Six.)

One pending House bill – the Securing America’s Future Act –would strengthen existing law by blocking criminal gang members from obtaining immigration benefits, including the DACA amnesty. The bill subjects such aliens to immediate deportation.

Similar initiatives are on the White House list of urgent priorities for immigration reform.

Immigration enforcement agencies deserve credit for significantly upping the number of DACA terminations for criminal acts, most commonly alien smuggling, assaults, domestic violence, sex with minors, drug offenses, DUI, larceny, theft and weapons violations. But revocations count for little as long as the perpetrators slip through the system like a protected class of criminal.