Federal agents arrested more than a dozen recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program for alleged crimes, which violates a core principle of the deferred action program's eligibility requirements.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency arrested 15 immigrants who were allowed to stay in the country after qualifying for the DACA program.

The program was created by President Barack Obama's executive action in June 2012 and granted eligible undocumented immigrants--under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012, and having been in the U.S. before June 15, 2007--the ability to apply for protection from deportation on renewable two-year cycles. On Nov. 20, 2014, Obama announced new guidelines for DACA that would eliminate the age cap and make the program available for undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. as of Jan. 1, 2010.

The guidelines, however, are not in effect pending a court decision. One important guideline since 2012 was for an undocumented immigrant to have a clean criminal history record.

The Associated Press reported 14 of the 15 DACA recipients were convicted of a crime, which was confirmed by the DHS on Thursday. For one DACA recipient, the individual's DACA renewal application was granted despite being convicted in a drug case. The alleged crimes of the DACA recipients were not disclosed in the report. The names of the undocumented immigrants were also not revealed.

An official did disclose that one DACA recipient was found with an armed gun. Homeland Security spokeswoman Marsha Catron did acknowledge some of the arrested undocumented immigrants had received DACA benefits, and three of those individuals have had the privileges revoked.

The Associated Press indicated the 15 DACA recipients were arrested with more than 2,000 convicted criminal immigrants during a five-day nationwide operation dubbed as "Cross Check," which occurred between March 1 and March 5. The ICE operation targeted individuals who posed the "greatest risk" toward public safety. Of the 2,059 convicted criminals, more than 1,000 of those people had multiple criminal convictions ranging from voluntary manslaughter, child pornography, robbery, kidnapping and rape.

"This national operation exemplifies ICE's ongoing commitment to prioritizing convicted criminals and public safety threats for apprehension and removal," said ICE Director Sarah Saldaña in a statement. "By taking these individuals off our streets and removing them from the country, we are making our communities safer for everyone."

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services agency, one of three federal immigration services under the DHS with ICE, is responsible for DACA applications and renewals. Since DACA's conception, the USCIS received more than 800,000 applications but tens of thousands have been rejected. According to the USCIS data, 787,068 DACA cases have been granted, including renewals.

Most DACA applicants have been from Latin America. Mexican nationals represented the most DACA applications followed by El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Peru. Undocumented immigrants from non-Latin Americans countries have also applied for DACA since 2012, including South Korea, Philippines, Jamaica, India and Pakistan.


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