Multiple recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program were detained for hours on Monday at a Customs and Border Protection checkpoint in Falfurrias, Texas, according to an immigration attorney.
The incident flies in the face of President Donald Trump’s pledge that even though he was ending the program that gives temporary protected status to undocumented immigrants who entered the U.S. as children, they had “nothing to worry about” for six months.
As many as 10 DACA recipients were detained at the checkpoint Monday morning, according to immigration attorney Elba Rocha. The checkpoint is located about 70 miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border.
Rocha said neither she nor fellow lawyers had never heard of customs and border agents taking such action before. The detentions were first reported by The Monitor, the area’s newspaper. Later in the day, the paper reported that all of the individuals had been released as of 7:30 p.m.
One DACA recipient was allegedly asked to get out of the car he was in when officers found out about his status. He was then detained along with other so-called Dreamers, despite the protections they have under DACA, Rocha told HuffPost.
Agents told family members of the Dreamers that they might transfer the individuals from the checkpoint to a detention center before releasing them, Rocha said a relative of one of those who was detained told her.
CBP did not comment on whether there has been a change in policy regarding DACA recipients or the timeline. A spokesperson said that border patrol agents encountered nine individuals at the checkpoint who said they were enrolled in DACA.
“Agents validated their claims by reviewing and verifying their documents,” the CBP spokesperson said. “The individuals were then released to proceed with their journey, consistent with established policies and procedures.”
Immigrant rights advocates and undocumented young people have been on edge since Trump took office ― more so than ever after he announced his decision last week to rescind the DACA program. Established by then-President Barack Obama in 2012, it granted nearly 800,000 of the undocumented young people work permits and protections from deportation.
But even as Trump moved to end DACA, he said that “no action” would be taken for the first six months, giving Congress a window to address the issue. Trump’s pledge meant that DACA recipients will not start losing their permits in large numbers until early March and that DACA recipients will not be targeted for removal from the U.S.
Still, the alleged detentions in Falfurrias could point to something troubling for DACA recipients: either a change in policy that entails more intense screening of them, or a lack of clarity that leads to agents taking actions against Dreamers without direction from the top.
Either option would especially affect DACA recipients living along the U.S.-Mexico border. In those regions, there are checkpoints operating within 100 miles of the border, so Dreamers encounter them regularly even while remaining in the U.S.
“We’re trying to figure out the same thing everyone else is: Is this new; is this going to be for everyone; is it just the [Rio Grande Valley] sector; what are we doing here? We don’t know,” Rocha said. “What’s the purpose of all of this? Because it never happened before that we know of.”
This article has been updated to include comment from a CBP spokesperson and information about the status of the detained individuals.