Among the many unanswered questions prompted by President Donald Trump’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program is whether or not the estimated 800,000 DACA recipients would be subject to the same immediate threat of deportation as other undocumented people.
The Department of Homeland Security said on Tuesday that former DACA recipients would not immediately be considered the highest priority for arrest and deportation. But the department also said that they would be treated “like any other person in the country illegally”—which, coming from an administration that has warned every single undocumented immigrant in the United States to “be worried” about deportation, is a chilling comment.
To make matters worse, the DHS made clear that the very information DACA recipients used to register with the federal government for protections under the program could, in the future, be used to target them for arrest and deportation.
According to a DHS FAQ page:
Information provided to USCIS [U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services] in DACA requests will not be proactively provided to ICE and CBP for the purpose of immigration enforcement proceedings, unless the requestor meets the criteria for the issuance of a Notice To Appear or a referral to ICE under the criteria set forth in USCIS’ Notice to Appear guidance
So while DHS has no plans to publish a master DACA list to use for rounding up former recipients, ICE and CBP can themselves request access to all the information a DACA participant used to apply for the program in the first place, if they say there’s a case for deportation of that person. As The Daily Beast’s Betsy Woodruff notes, that includes things like their address, their place of work, and even where they go to school.
What’s more, as DHS states in the FAQ:
This policy, which may be modified, superseded, or rescinded at any time without notice, is not intended to, does not, and may not be relied upon to create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable by law by any party in any administrative, civil, or criminal matter.
So, while DHS is currently only planning to give DACA recipients’ info out to ICE and CBP agents upon request, that policy could very well change in the future.
Given that the Trump administration has already deported six times as many former DACA recipients per month than President Obama, it seems safe to assume that the White House’s decision to end DACA entirely will only cause that number to rise.