The private information provided by undocumented 'Dreamers' on applications for relief under the DACA program should not be used by the in-coming Donald Trump administration to deport them, according to Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson.
In a letter obtained by Univision, the outgoing Department of Homeland Security chief said the documents of young immigrants who applied for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that granted work permits for those who came to the United States illegally as a child, had legal protection.
Johnson pointed out in a letter to Congress that the 742,000 Dreamers who applied for DACA did so knowing that their personal information — such as addresses and telephone numbers — would not be used against them for deportation purposes, unless there were national security concerns or other similar reasons.
“We believe these representations made by the U.S. government, upon with DACA applicants most assuredly relied, must continue to be honored,” Johnson wrote.
President-elect Trump has pledged to reverse Obama's executive actions, such as DACA. Whether President-elect Trump follows through with his promises is one of the biggest fears of undocumented immigrants, according to immigrant advocates.
Since he was elected, Trump has taken softened his tone toward Dreamers. "We’re going to work something out that’s going to make people happy and proud,” Trump told Time magazine last month. “They got brought here at a very young age, they’ve worked here, they’ve gone to school here. Some were good students. Some have wonderful jobs. And they’re in never-never land because they don’t know what’s going to happen.”
Launched in June 2012, DACA allows certain young undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children to apply for employment authorization and protection from deportation. The status does not lead to residency or citizenship and must be renewed every two years. While Obama expanded the program in 2014, removing an age cap and making the status renewable every three years, the expansion was halted by a lawsuit and a tied Supreme Court decision.
In his letter, Johnson told lawmakers that federal immigration authorities have historically not used personal information for other types of immigrants who have been granted protection from deportation and work authorization, such as widowers of U.S. citizens and foreign students affected by Hurricane Katrina.
“Since DACA began, thousands of Dreamers have been able to enroll in colleges and universities, complete their education, start businesses that help improve our economy, and give back to our communities as teachers, medical professionals, engineers, and entrepreneurs — all on the books,” Johnson wrote. “We continue to benefit as a country from the contributions of those young people who have come forward and want nothing more than to contribute to our country and our shared future.”