Trump Is Claiming That DACA Recipients Are Criminals But They Literally Can’t Have A Criminal Record
President Trump lied to the American people, tweeting that “some” of DACA recipients are “very tough, hardened criminals.” In fact, any significant criminal activity would disqualify someone from receiving DACA’s protections. So, calling just one of “the people in DACA” “a very tough, hardened criminal,” is a false statement. It misleads the American people and further fans the continued rise of racism against Latinos in a ploy to appeal to his base. While the new normal may be to scoff at the consistent lies and Twitter-fueled intimidation tacts employed by Trump, we must hold each lie accountable. Just over three months ago, a white supremacist wrote a manifesto using much of the language the president uses. Then, he drove to El Paso and slaughtered 22 Mexican nationals and Mexican-Americans.
The morning of a Supreme Court hearing regarding Trump’s decision to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), Trump tweeted this lie:
“Many of the people in DACA, no longer very young, are far from ‘angels.’ Some are very tough, hardened criminals,” Trump tweeted on November 12. Later, he tweeted, “DACA recipients with arrest records: 53,792! That is a very large proportion of the total.” The percentage is in fact 7.76 percent of approved DACA recipients, according to a report released by The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Trump continues to pander misleading statistics to the American people to allude that any kind of “deal with the Dems” would be generous.
Those “arrests” include apprehensions from ICE. The USCIS website clearly states, “An arrest indicates the individual was arrested or apprehended only and does not mean the individual was convicted of a crime… Further, individuals 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.”
An arrest is not a charge or even a conviction of a crime. Arrests do not necessarily indicate criminality.
We all know that people of color are often scrutinized by law enforcement more harshly, and often, inappropriately. Innocent people are arrested all the time. Less frequently, innocent people are convicted, though we know it happens. Ruben Martinez, Jr., an innocent man, was just exonerated of all charges this month after serving 11 years in prison. Fact: arrest records do not indicate criminality in any individual. Convictions do.
There are no public records that offer conviction histories of DACA recipients. The entire basis of this report by USCIS is contrary to the American values of “innocent until proven guilty.” Arrests do not indicate guilt. It is also important to remember that having no criminal record is a necessary stipulation in order to receive DACA status.
Nearly a quarter of the arrest offenses are immigration-related.
Effectively, the exact legal basis of why DACA exists: to allow children brought into the country illegally to thrive without fear of arrest for their parents’ actions. Examples of such immigration-related offenses include over-staying visas. The most common type of offense, accounting for nearly 40 percent of all arrests are driving-related (excluding DUIs). Remember all those times you’ve gotten a speeding ticket, or didn’t make a complete stop before making a right on red? That’s your arrest record. That’s the bulk of the “hardened” crimes DACA requestors have on record (not necessarily with conviction).
If an immigrant has been convicted of a felony, a significant misdemeanor, or three or more misdemeanor offenses, they are ineligible for DACA.
In fact, immigrants with any type of significant arrest history will likely pass on applying for DACA, because it effectively places them on the federal government’s radar. A good immigration attorney won’t allow their clients to give up so much information about their criminal record, place of work, or home address if they feel they’ll be denied by DACA, because it may trigger an arrest warrant by ICE. Arguably, “hardened criminals” don’t even apply for DACA, let alone receive it by the federal government. DACA recipients must reapply for DACA status every two years. So, if a DACA recipient becomes a “hardened criminal,” then they would lose their deportation protections.