Things That Matter

ICE Is Threatening To Reopen Deportation Proceedings Against All DACA Recipients Regardless Of DACA Status

DACA is supposed to protect those who qualify for the protected status from deportation proceedings. This is how the program has worked (or was intended to) since 2012, when President Obama enacted it via executive order. However, many DACA recipients are now facing the uncertain futures they had hoped to avoid by signing up for DACA in the first place as ICE has moved to reopen their deportation cases.

This has thrown people’s futures into doubt and cast a dark shadow over their status and the lives of their families.

ICE has moved to reopen long closed deportation cases against DREAMers.

In an escalation of its pursuit of undocumented immigrants, the Trump administration is moving to deport members of the very group that seemed until a few years ago the most protected: DACA recipients.

ICE has begun asking immigration courts to reopen administratively closed deportation cases against DACA recipients who continue to have no criminal record, or only a minor record. Immigration attorneys in Arizona confirmed at least 14 such cases being reopened since October, and according to a report by CNN, there are also cases which were recently reopened in Nevada, Missouri, California, and New York.

And that is just the beginning. ICE confirmed that all DACA recipients whose deportation cases have been administratively closed can expect to see them reopened. In an email, the agency stated that “re-calendaring of administratively closed cases is occurring nationwide and not isolated to a particular state or region.”Administratively closing a case removes it from the court calendar, in effect putting it on hold indefinitely. Immigration courts are part of the Department of Justice, unlike civil or criminal courts.

The move to reopen deportation cases against Dreamers comes as the US Supreme Court considers whether to let the Trump administration end the program.

During oral arguments in November, the U.S. Supreme Court’s conservative majority signaled Tuesday that it may let the Trump administration shut down the Obama-era program that granted temporary protection from deportation to roughly 700,000. Some justices made it clear that they were accepting the president’s assurances that ending DACA would not mean deporting Dreamers.

But immigration attorneys say the cases they are now seeing reopened show how ICE is preparing to deport DACA recipients if the Supreme Court ruling terminates the program.

It has long been the case that Dreamers who are charged with or convicted of a serious crime risk losing DACA status and being deported, since applicants had to have no felonies, significant misdemeanors, or three or more other misdemeanors to qualify for deferred action in the first place.

According to CNN, cases against DACA recipients began being reopened in October.

“It wasn’t until October that DHS (Department of Homeland Security) started to reopen the DACA cases,” Tucson attorney Jesse Evans-Schroeder wrote in an email to CNN. She said five of her DACA clients saw their cases reopened in October or November.

Before May 2018, when then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions barred the practice of administratively closing cases, immigration judges as a matter of routine administratively closed deportation cases against people who received DACA, since that status protected them from deportation.

In a statement provided by spokeswoman Paige Hughes, ICE said that it is required under Session’s May 2018 decision “to reopen approximately 350,000 administratively closed cases so they are litigated to completion,” and the applicant is ordered removed or obtains relief. ICE did not break down how many of the 350,000 administratively closed cases involve DACA recipients versus other people who are simply a low priority for deportation, but Hughes said there is no stipulation that would exempt DACA recipients.

Just this week, a DACA recipient in California was arrested by ICE while at her job at a Marriott Hotel.

According to her family and friends, ICE agents took Daniella Ramirez, 23, into custody at 5:30 a.m. Friday. 

According to NBC 4, Ramirez worked full time in the kitchen and as a receptionist at the hotel for the past two years. Ramirez came to the U.S. from Mexico with her sister when she was 10-years-old. She graduated from Azusa High School, and her DACA status expired. She told NBC 4 she neglected to renew it out of fear. She says she’d heard she’d be sent to jail if she did.

And a mother driving her 5-year-old to school was stopped, arrested, and held in jail despite having an active DACA status.

Paula Hincapie-Rendon was on her way to drop off her kid at school when an unmarked car started following her. Hours later, her parents were in an ICE detention center and her house had been burglarized.

But on the morning of May 8, agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested her a block away from her house in Englewood. 

Hincapie-Rendon said she was taking her 5-year-old daughter to school when an unmarked car pulled her over. Two agents approached her car and told her to get out. She asked them to identify themselves three times, but they refused. On the fourth try, they answered.

Hincapie-Rendon asked if she could take her daughter back to the house and leave her with her parents. The agents obliged, with one caveat — they would be driving her car while she sat in their van, handcuffed.

Once at the house, agents found Hincapie-Rendon’s dad, Carlos Hincapie, leaving for work. They arrested him on the spot. Agents then went into the house and arrested Hincapie-Rendon’s mom, Betty Rendon, a Lutheran minister who was set to start her doctorate at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago in June. Agents also arrested Hincapie’s cousin, who was staying with the family.

The agents drove the family to ICE’s field office in the Loop. The agency released Hincapie-Rendon that same afternoon under an order of supervision.

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