Homeland Security: DACA recipients are not a target group for arrest

Homeland Security: DACA recipients are not a target group for arrest
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The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on Wednesday clarified that immigration enforcement is not targeting Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients following the official expiration of the program.

DHS spokesman Tyler Houlton said in a statement that the agency had "repeatedly" stated that DACA recipients would not be targeted for deportation unless they had committed a crime.

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"With regard to enforcement actions against current and expiring DACA recipients, DHS has repeatedly stated that, absent additional negative factors, DACA recipients are not a priority or target group for arrest or removal," Houlton said.

He also noted that it is possible for a DACA recipient to be removed from the program "due to violations of the terms of DACA — including criminal conduct."

"An individual who is a current DACA recipient, or who was a previous DACA recipient but has filed for renewal, will not be targeted for arrest nor will be removed from the United States while the individual has DACA protections or while the DACA renewal request is pending," he added.

The program to protect individuals brought to the U.S. illegally as children was set to officially expire on March 5, after President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump appears to confirm deal on Chinese firm ZTE Judge rejects Manafort's attempt to throw out some charges Dem: Trump’s policy of separating children, parents at border ‘would shock Jesus’ MORE announced he was ending the program. But since a California court blocked the order to end the program, the protections remain in place.

The DHS statement nodded to Trump's argument that DACA is unconstitutional because it was put in place by an executive action from former President Obama, rather than a program passed through Congress.

"We note that the DACA protections currently in place due to a court injunction are the result of a likely unconstitutional exercise of executive authority and only good for two years at a time. We believe Congress should find a permanent solution for the DACA population and will continue to work with Congress to that end," he said.

The Trump administration rescinded the DACA program in September, claiming it was an overreach of the Obama administration's authority.

"There can be no path to principled immigration reform if the executive branch is able to rewrite or nullify federal laws at will," Trump said at the time.

Since then, lawmakers have been unable to reach a deal on an immigration reform proposal that would satisfy both the Trump administration's demand for funding for a border wall while simultaneously ensuring protections remain in place for the nearly 2 million immigrants protected under DACA.