Grassley, Tillis Confirm Murder Suspect Received DACA Despite Alleged ‘Known Gang Ties’
Senators Request DACA Policy for Applicants with Criminal Histories
WASHINGTON – Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Senator Thom Tillis of North Carolina released evidence received by the Judiciary Committee confirming that murder suspect Emmanuel Jesus Rangel-Hernandez avoided deportation through President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy. The Senators also requested details on the Department of Homeland Security’s adjudication process for people seeking deferred deportation.
Grassley raised concerns in February about allegations that Rangel-Hernandez, who is charged with first degree murder in the deaths of four people in North Carolina, was previously granted deferred deportation under DACA despite known gang ties.
Records indicate Rangel-Hernandez was placed in the removal process by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) following drug charges in March 2012, but removal proceedings were dismissed on December 18, 2013, because he was approved for deferred action under DACA. Whistleblowers allege that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services granted Rangel-Hernandez’s DACA application despite knowledge that he was a gang member.
In a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, the Senators expressed concern of potential vulnerabilities in the system, and requested DACA policies and historic data on applications from people with criminal backgrounds.
A signed copy of the letter is available here. Full text of the letter is below.
March 20, 2015
VIA ELECTRONIC TRANSMISSION
The Honorable Jeh Johnson
Department of Homeland Security
Washington, DC 20528
Dear Secretary Johnson:
On Friday, February 27, Senator Grassley wrote to you inquiring whether Emmanuel Jesus Rangel-Hernandez applied for and was, subsequently, approved for deferred action under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. As you are aware, Mr. Rangel-Hernandez has been charged with first degree murder in the death of four individuals in Charlotte, North Carolina. However, you have not responded to Senator Grassley’s initial inquiry though it was due by March 9, 2015.
Since that letter, we have received information that Mr. Rangel-Hernandez applied for and was approved for deferred action under DACA. According to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Arrest Affidavit, Mr. Rangel-Hernandez was arrested for misdemeanor possession of Marijuana on March 30, 2012. As a result of his arrest and unlawful status in the United States, Mr. Rangel-Hernandez was put into removal proceedings by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) after his arrest on March 30, 2012. Subsequently, Mr. Rangel-Hernandez’s removal proceedings were dismissed on December 18, 2013 due to his approved DACA application.
Furthermore, whistleblowers have alleged that Mr. Rangel-Hernandez’s DACA application was approved although U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) had full knowledge that he was a known gang member. This raises serious concerns about USCIS’s review and approval of other DACA applicants and points to potential vulnerabilities in the system. Therefore, we are seeking the Department’s official policy related to DACA adjudications for suspected or known gang members.
In addition, please answer the following questions:
1. Since DACA’s creation, how many applications have been approved? Please provide the answer by fiscal year.
2. Of the DACA applications approved, please provide the number of applicants that:
a. Had known gang affiliation.
b. Suspected gang affiliation.
c. Had criminal affiliations.
3. Please explain why USCIS approved DACA applications for known or suspected gang members and others with criminal affiliations.
4. By fiscal year, how many DACA applications have been denied because of gang affiliation or other criminal affiliation?
5. By fiscal year, please provide the number of DACA terminations as a result of gang affiliation or other criminal affiliation.
6. What steps is USCIS taking to ensure that known or suspected gang members or criminally affiliated applicants are denied DACA or approved DACA is terminated once knowledge of gang affiliation or other criminal affiliation is known?
We request that the Department respond to this letter no later than March 31, 2015. Should you have any questions, please contact Kathy Nuebel of Senator Grassley’s staff and Courtney Temple of Senator Tillis’ staff at (202)224-5225.