Border Patrol agents in San Diego arrested two illegal immigrant “Dreamers” last week over their purported roles in separate smuggling operations, with one 22-year-old admitting to having been part of a number of such smuggling attempts.
The arrests are black eyes on the Obama-era DACA program, which is currently the subject of heated debate in Washington.
In one incident Thursday, agents had just arrested two illegal immigrants and then spotted two suspicious vehicles in the area. They followed on and eventually conducted a stop at a border checkpoint.
The 22-year-old driver admitted to being a scouter for a smuggling crew, and said he’d been informing the other car about Border Patrol operations in the area to help them with their smuggling. The man is currently under DACA protection, the government said.
Agents said they determined the man had been part of successful smuggling operations “on multiple occasions.”
Customs and Border Protection was shielding his identity.
In the other incident a day earlier, agents saw a vehicle stopped on the side of Interstate Highway 5 and decided to take a look. They found three men inside: the driver (a 20-year-old man who’d had DACA status but it had expired) and two illegal immigrants.
The driver admitted he was involved in human smuggling, authorities said.
Last year Border Patrol agents manning a highway checkpoint in Texas snared two Dreamers in separate smuggling cases.
To qualify for the DACA program illegal immigrants must assert they were brought to the U.S. as children and have kept a relatively clean record.
Immigrant-smuggling violates the terms of the agreement, as does gang membership or other serious crimes of violence.
As of this summer, some 2,139 Dreamers had had their DACA status revoked, out of nearly 800,000 people who’d been approved for the program — an incredibly low rate of about a quarter of 1 percent.
Still, the arrests come at a touchy time in negotiations, with Democrats arguing Dreamers should be granted full citizenship rights and President Trump saying that must be coupled with strict border security and other immigration policy changes.
None of the identities of the Dreamers were released in any of the cases.
Homeland Security said the active Dreamer in the San Diego smuggling incident is being processed for deportation, while the Dreamer with the expired DACA status is “currently being held in federal custody.”
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