DACA Recipients Worry What The Government Will Do With Their Private Information Young immigrants gave the government information like addresses, photos, fingerprints and bank statements when they applied for DACA. Now they worry that information could be used against them.
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DACA Recipients Worry What The Government Will Do With Their Private Information

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DACA Recipients Worry What The Government Will Do With Their Private Information

DACA Recipients Worry What The Government Will Do With Their Private Information

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MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

President Trump tweeted on Thursday that young immigrants brought to this country illegally by their parents, quote, "have nothing to worry about," unquote. That message came after the Trump administration announced that they would be ending the Obama era program called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA, unless Congress saves it by March. But as NPR's Richard Gonzales reports, many so-called DREAMers are still worried.

RICHARD GONZALES, BYLINE: When he was just a year old, Sheridan Aguirre was brought to this country from Mexico by his mother, who wanted to reunite with her husband, an agricultural worker. She had always planned to return, but something happened.

SHERIDAN AGUIRRE: My teachers noticed that I was doing well in school, that I was excelling.

GONZALES: So she decided to stay. Aguirre graduated at the top of his high school class and then earned a degree in filmmaking from the University of Texas. Today, he's 23 and is involved with an advocacy group lobbying for permanent legal status for the DREAMers.

Sitting in the D.C. offices of United We Dream, Aguirre recalls how his family collectively decided to take the risk of enrolling him in DACA. It required giving the government information, like addresses, photos, fingerprints and bank statements. Aguirre says he believed the government's assurances that his personal information wouldn't be used against him.

AGUIRRE: They were telling me that my private information would be secure, that it would not be shared with ICE Border Patrol or any other agencies. So I did it with confidence.

GONZALES: But Aguirre says that confidence was shaken by Trump's decision to end DACA.

AGUIRRE: It is a scary situation. It really is.

GONZALES: Here's why. In an online post, the Department of Homeland Security says that the personal information provided by DACA recipients won't be proactively shared with immigration enforcement agents. But if ICE officials ask for the data, the agency will hand it over. And it says the privacy policy can be modified or rescinded at any time without notice.

LEON FRESCO: And what that means in plain English is...

GONZALES: Leon Fresco is a D.C.-based immigration attorney who worked in the Obama Justice Department.

FRESCO: ...When ICE wants to place someone in removal proceedings, it can ask for any information it wants to do that. And the administration has not denied this meaning.

GONZALES: Stephen Legomsky was chief counsel of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services when DACA was created back in 2012. He says the government didn't just give people a promise that their data would remain confidential; it also actively encouraged people to apply with that assurance.

STEPHEN LEGOMSKY: If it were to then turn around and say, gotcha (ph), now we know where you live. We're coming out to get you to deport you. Then there is at least a fair argument that fundamental fairness has been violated and that means it can be a due process challenge.

GONZALES: And that's an argument being made by 15 states in the District of Columbia in a suit brought this week against the administration. But Legomsky says a legal challenge may have to wait until the administration actually uses the information to help deport people. If that day comes, Sheridan Aguirre says his family, including his U.S. citizen siblings, is prepared for when ICE comes knocking.

AGUIRRE: If ICE were to come to our door, that they won't open the door, that they'll check to make sure that they have a warrant, that they're recording the situations because this is our home. And we should feel safe in the places where we've grown up in.

GONZALES: Aguirre compares it to a fire drill. He says there's strength in knowing he's done all he could do to face an uncertain future. Richard Gonzales, NPR News.

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