Case Underscores Troubling Trend: Trump Administration Making False Accusations to Target DACA Recipients

California-- A recipient of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, Rodrigo Farfan, was released on June 27th from the Mesa Verde Detention Center after a campaign by community members calling on ICE to release him. ICE officials detained Rodrigo on June 15th, the same day the Trump administration announced it would continue the program created by the Obama administration in 2012.

Rodrigo, now 22, has lived in California since immigrating here with his family, from Bolivia, in 2001. He had previously twice renewed his DACA, most recently in 2016, and has a valid work permit through October 2018. Ironically, though the United States is the only country Rodrigo has known, he is facing deportation for celebrating the Fourth of July with fireworks.

“I love this country. I have had my DACA renewed and I just didn’t think stuff like this happened to immigrants like me, and in California of all states. I don’t want to be deported, especially not for celebrating the 4th of July and the freedom that this country represents to me,” Rodrigo said from detention.

Last Fourth of July, despite his neighbors also setting off fireworks, police officers singled out Rodrigo and cited him for using fireworks. Several months later, local authorities charged him with a misdemeanor; he plead guilty and paid a $415 fine on June 12 of this year. Just three days later, ICE agents stalked Rodrigo outside his house and arrested him when he left for work. “We love Rodrigo and our whole family is devastated that he is facing deportation for something like this” says Fabiana, Rodrigo’s older sister, “he is the breadwinner of our family,”

Additionally, suggesting a troubling trend, ICE officials started spreading false statements about Rodrigo shortly after receiving inquiries from the media about his case. Echoing the wrongful accusations ICE leveled against a Seattle DACA recipient whom a judge ultimately released, ICE officials are making false and unsubstantiated claims of gang affiliation. The Trump administration’s preference for alternative facts is embedded in the exploitation of racial stereotypes to criminalize DACA recipients like Rodrigo and advance a xenophobic, anti-immigrant agenda.

Rodrigo was released on June 27th on an Order of Recognizance and his Notice to Appear was canceled. “The actions of the Trump administration have resulted in Rodrigo’s DACA to be terminated. He was released, but only after his deportation proceedings resulted in his losing his DACA status.” Niloufar Khonsari “The Trump administration can right this wrong by giving Rodrigo his DACA back, unless the real message here is that DACA recipients are no longer safe under the Trump administration.”