On Saturday, November 16th, USCIS issued a press release discussing the approval numbers and arrest records of DACA recipients. It is pure propaganda meant to turn the public away from a hugely successful and popular program whose fate is now rests with the U.S. Supreme Court. It is a disgusting display of using a government agency for political reasons and fails to show the whole story.
Here are the numbers from USCIS:
DACA Requesters: 888,818
DACA Approvals: 765,166
DACA Approvals with Arrest Records: 79,398 (10.4%)
Of those arrests, 38,273 – that is, 48% of all arrests are for non-DUI traffic-related offenses and immigration related offense. Even if these arrests lead to convictions, these are not hardened criminals, but people who lacked documentation and drivers’ licenses.
In the United States, we have a presumption of innocence. An arrest does not make someone guilty. Just yesterday, my pastor told the story of running in NYC and getting stopped by police because he was in a restricted area by accident. He wasn’t guilty of anything except running where he shouldn’t have been and not having any ID on him. Does that make him a horrible person? Of course not. Let’s remember to give DACA recipients the benefit of the doubt. USCIS highlights that 12% have arrests records. That’s not news – that’s gossip and deliberately hurtful.
What’s interesting is that USCIS doesn’t give the public information on how many DACA recipients have actual convictions. An arrest is a suspicion or bad luck. A conviction means that enough evidence was presented or a plea was made to determine actual guilt. USCIS is trying to demonize DACA recipients by subtitling their report with “offenses include murder, rape, weapon and assault charges.” It’s not a lie, but it is misleading. If someone is found guilty of those crimes, they shouldn’t have DACA and they should face immigration consequences.
I expect better from government agencies. I know that I certainly disagree on the implementation of policy and the direction that USCIS is taking, but I never thought that they would stoop to the point of propaganda. It’s scary, wrong, and beneath the career officials who work there.