Concerns Persist About Use of DREAMers' Data

January 4, 2017

Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson said in a letter to Democratic lawmakers that federal authorities should not use personal information provided by young undocumented immigrants known as DREAMers for deportation-related purposes, Politico reported. President-elect Donald J. Trump has said he would end the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, under which hundreds of thousands of young people who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children have obtained temporary relief from the possibility of deportation -- prompting widespread concerns that information they provided to the government for DACA-related purposes could potentially be used to aid in their deportation. Trump has not indicated he will use DACA recipients’ information in this way.

“Today there are 750,000 young people enrolled in DACA who, when they applied for enrollment, relied on the U.S. government’s representations about the use of their personal identifying information,” Johnson’s letter states. “Since DACA was announced in 2012, DHS has consistently made clear that information provided by applicants will be collected and considered for the primary purpose of adjudicating their DACA requests and would be safeguarded from other immigration-related purposes … We believe these representations made by the U.S. government, upon which DACA applicants most assuredly relied, must continue to be honored.”

More than 100 members of Congress sent a letter to Obama in December calling on him to “consider taking executive action to prevent DACA enrollees’ personal information from being used for purposes other than originally intended, including for the purposes of removal.” One of the leaders of that effort, Judy Chu, a Democratic congresswoman from California, issued a statement Tuesday describing Johnson’s response on behalf of the Obama administration as inadequate.

“Secretary Johnson’s commitment to protecting DREAMers from deportation is admirable, as is the work done by DHS and this administration to protect and support immigrants,” Representative Chu said. “However, this letter unfortunately falls short on necessary assurances for the future. While, as the letter states, ‘longstanding and consistent procedure of DHS’ has limited the use of personal information submitted to the government, our concerns are with the actions of the incoming president, who has expressly run against norms and precedent. That is why we specifically requested an executive order to provide greater security for undocumented immigrants who trusted us by explicitly preventing the personal information submitted by DREAMers to be used for their deportation. Without such a legal assurance, immigrants who believed our promise of security are left to the devices of President-elect Trump, who has repeatedly promised to be a deporter in chief.”

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