Border Patrol Memo States Procedures to Process All DACA Recipients
WESLACO – On Sept. 11, 2017, nine people were processed at the checkpoint in Falfurrias. They were held for hours.
An internal memo states U.S. Border Patrol has the right and responsibility to do that.
A Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipient and eight others were detained and processed. They were delayed for eight hours.
One recipient spoke with CHANNEL 5 NEWS in response over her current feeling of being a DACA recipient.
"It's scary, because they don't know when they're going to stop it or whether they're going to separate families and we're going to be away from our parents and the ones we love,” she said.
She told us Border Patrol agents didn't know if she would go home or be deported after her processing. It scared her.
Until that point, her experiences at the Falfurrias checkpoint were brief.
The DACA recipient said, "They would just ask me if I worked and that's it. And, where did I work. And that's about it."
She said the process at the checkpoint was always pretty quick before. It would take about five minutes to pass through. It was different on September 11.
A memo was sent out Sept. 6 to all chief patrol agents and directorate chiefs. CHANNEL 5 NEWS showed it to immigration attorney Alex Martinez. He said it directs agents to be more thorough.
"So if they're out of status, what they are saying is that they indeed need to verify them through the E3 process to make sure that the actual work permit that they have is valid and whether or not there is any derogatory information that could disqualify them from DACA on the spot," Martinez said.
The memo states, "Agents must determine for any individual ... whether removal proceedings are appropriate."
It goes on to explain DACA recipients could face three different scenarios. Those claiming to have DACA must be processed through what's called an 'E3' system, a system with access to ICE and DHS databases.
For those with a pending DACA application or DACA renewal, they will be processed as if they have deferred action under DACA.
If someone claims to have DACA but lacks proof, agents will run a Claim S3 check or contact U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Those in compliance will be let go. If an agent finds derogatory information, removal procedures could begin immediately.
What the memo doesn't state is how long this process should take. Those with La Union del Pueblo Entero, or LUPE, tell CHANNEL 5 NEWS a recent DACA recipient was held for two days, then let go.
This DACA recipient admits she sees the positives and negatives with this process.
She said it could be a positive if it catches someone who might have committed a crime, but also adds, "We're all going to have to go through all that. It's not worth it; I mean, it's not fair."
For now, Martinez advises DACA recipients not to cross checkpoints or ports of entry unless it's an emergency.
"Then I would advise simply make sure that you have your attorney, a successful immigration attorney, on standby if it's necessary for you to cross. If it's not necessary for you to cross, then I would say the extreme action is not deciding not to cross, it's to cross because what you will be subjected to is not a pleasant experience," Martinez said.
It's advice the DACA teen and her friends are already taking.
The memo we saw does not address processing times. We've reached out to border patrol for an interview regarding this memo.