The truth about DACA is uglier than we’ve been told

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The narrative surrounding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program holds that it was put in place to protect “kids” who were brought here through no fault of their own. DACA supporters implied that applicants were mostly Hispanic and that as citizens of distressed republics a short distance away from the wealthy United States, their violation of our immigration laws was somehow understandable. Program applicants were also portrayed as brilliant valedictorians and proud members of the military.

From the outset, that narrative rang hollow. In a column for the Washington Post, Mickey Kaus described it as public-relations-style “hooey.” Here’s why.

  • Many of the DACA “kids” were not brought here as young children. They entered the U.S. illegally as teenagers.
  • A large number of DACA applicants weren’t “brought” here at all. They crossed the border themselves.
  • Over 2,000 individuals approved for DACA had their status terminated for criminal activity ranging from alien smuggling to sexual assault. That number is still growing.
  • Fewer than 900 DACA recipients – or slightly more than one-tenth of one percent of the total DACA population – joined the military. 

{mosads}New data released by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) definitively establishes that most of the DACA narrative is false. Particularly overblown are claims that deported DACA recipients would inevitably be strangers in a strange land.


USCIS lists 149 countries of origin for DACA applicants. English is the national language in at least 26 of those countries. Those include the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Ireland. A large number of applicants are from India, Hong Kong and the Philippines, where there are enormous English-speaking communities.

 Other statistics also undermine claims that the United States must “take care of the DACAs” or condemn them to a life of isolation and poverty. 

  • At least 36 of the nations of origin listed by USCIS are wealthy, democratic and European. They include Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Sweden.
  • Applicants also originate from at least nine Asian countries with fully developed or rapidly developing economies. Those include South Korea, Japan and Singapore.
  • A total of 360 nationals from Israel applied for DACA benefits. Israel is a developed nation with a thriving economy that accepts all returned citizens and provides free instruction in Hebrew to returnees and immigrants. 

In fact, many DACA applicant’s birth countries are listed on the higher end of the common standard of living indexes. Which means that DACA advocates are arguing that the United States has a moral obligation to undermine its own laws in order to avoid returning illegal aliens to countries whose citizens are considered to have a higher standard of living than many Americans. 


One wonders why it has never occurred to Congress that its primary obligation should be protecting native-born American kids from illegal aliens who compete with them for entry-level jobs and seats at colleges and universities. Curiously, our elected representatives seem remarkably unconcerned about protecting America’s standard of living. 

What is most disturbing about the data released by USCIS, however, is the number of DACA applicants who come from countries associated with terrorism or overt anti-Americanism. This is cause for concern given the “lean and lite” vetting used to quickly approve DACA applications:

  • More than 1,000 DACA applications were accepted from Pakistani nationals despite concerns over growing anti-U.S. sentiment within the country and the Pakistani government’s overt support of jihadist terror groups.
  • At least 60 applicants were accepted from Iran, and more than 2,000 from Venezuela, even though both nations are overtly hostile to the United States.
  • Applications were also accepted from Libyans, Syrians and Yemenis even though the Obama administration placed travel restrictions on nationals from those countries, due to terrorism concerns.

Based on the facts — rather than the myth — it seems clear the individuals who applied for, and received, DACA were not the oppressed, well-meaning, high-achievers that the media and the open-borders lobby portrayed them to be.

As new amnesties loom on the legislative horizon, the low standards for the DACA program should have every American wondering just exactly who will be given amnesty if the more expansive DREAM Act, or similar legislation, should pass. If history is a guide, expansive amnesty programs are the last thing that will make America great again.

Matt O’Brien is the former chief of the National Security Division within the Fraud Detection and National Security Directorate at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. He has also served as assistant chief counsel in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s New York district. He is currently the director of research at the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR).

Tags Borders DACA deferred action for childhood arrivals Illegal immigration Immigration Immigration to the United States Matt O'Brien Mickey Kaus

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