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Rep. Chu Response to Letter from DHS Secretary Johnson Regarding the Privacy of DACA Recipients

January 3, 2017
Press Release

Washington, DC – Today, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Jeh Johnson delivered a response to a December 5th letter sent by 110 Members of Congress calling on President Obama to protect the private information of those who applied for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. The December letter, led by Reps. Judy Chu (CA-27), Zoe Lofgren (CA-29), Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40), Raul Grijalva (AZ-03), and Luis Gutierrez (IL-04), specifically suggests an Executive Order that would prohibit the use of DACA enrollees’ information for purposes other than originally intended, including for purposes of deportation. In his response, Secretary Johnson cited past DHS policy to use personal information in as limited a way as possible, but did not respond to the request for an executive order or prospects that precedent will be respected in a future administration. The authors of the letter released the following statements:

“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,” said Rep. Judy Chu. “However, this letter unfortunately falls short on necessary assurances for the future. While, as the letter states, ‘long-standing 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.”  

“It is good to know that under President Obama, DHS is protecting the private data of DACA enrollees,” said Rep. Roybal-Allard. “Unfortunately, the Obama Administration ends on January 20.  That is why we asked President Obama to take action that would protect DACA recipients and prevent the new administration from using the recipients’ personal information for purposes not originally intended, such as deportation.  Given the statements of the incoming Trump Administration, DACA enrollees are currently living in fear of an uncertain future.  They fear being ripped from their home, their family, and the only country they know.  My colleagues and I urge President Obama to take immediate action to protect these young immigrants and enable them to continue contributing their talents to America, their only home.”

“It is good to see the Department of Homeland Security demonstrating a sense of urgency when it comes to the safety of DREAMers,” said Rep. Gutierrez. “There is more action we would like the Administration to take before leaving, but this is a good way to start the New Year.”

“I am glad to see Secretary Johnson shares the very real concerns that personal information provided to the federal government in order to apply for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program could be used by the next administration to target aspiring Americans for deportation,” said Rep. Grijalva. “Protecting DACA recipients is about keeping our commitment as a nation, and about recognizing the tremendous contributions that immigrants bring to our society. We cannot allow the transition of power from one administration to the next to become an excuse for breaking faith with the very people we’ve committed to help, and we cannot afford for incoming leaders – now or in the future – to turn their backs on our rich heritage as a nation of immigrants.”