An amateur video shot by a “concerned citizen” showed illegal immigrants entering the country at a San Diego beach. The group arrived in a motor boat across the international border dividing the U.S. and Mexico, showing up at Torrey Pines State Beach. Leaving the boat behind, an individual can be seen running to a nearby road where a red Pontiac Aztek SUV was waiting for them. In an apparent hurry, the vehicle began to move away even before one of the doors was closed as the illegal aliens were spirited away.

However, just a day later, Border Patrol officers found the Aztek. Inside was an illegal immigrant in the back seat. The agents found Alejandro Castro: one of those who has been granted tentative legal status by Barack Obama’s 2012 deportation amnesty, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA). The DACA recipients are sometime known as Dreamers. 

Castro was just one of four dreamers arrested in separate raids within one week at the end of January that ranged from San Diego, California, to Laredo, Texas. In a news release issued on January 29, the Border Patrol announced arrests of the previous week. Those arrested included an American citizen, four illegal aliens. One of the persons arrested is a 22-year-old DACA recipient, while another is a 20-year-old man whose DACA protections had expired. The news release header read: “Agents arrest 2 DACA recipients for involvement in human smuggling.”

Immigration authorities are pursuing charges against Castro,whose DACA status was expired. The other man is reportedly being held by immigration authorities who suspect that he violated the terms of DACA protections. State and local authorities are restricted in how they respond to illegal immigrants and to requests from federal immigration authorities to detain them. In December, Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed legislation declaring California a sanctuary state. The state attorney general has since warned employers not to cooperate with immigration authorities in identifying illegal aliens.

According to a criminal complaint, Castro was driving a Pontiac Aztek with his 22-year-old cousin and a man who had entered the country illegally on the day before when immigration officers stopped the vehicle on Interstate 5. Immigration authorities had received reports that a vehicle matching the description of the Pontiac was suspected of harboring illegal immigrants.

According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, Castro had received a phone call from a person known as “El Vaquero” who told him to pick up the illegal immigrant. He was also told to drive the man to Los Angeles and leave the man with his family after receiving confirmation that his smuggling fee was paid in full. Castro and the cousin later admitted they had also both picked a group of illegal aliens who had landed on the beach the night before. Castro was paid $1,500 to drive two men and his cousin. The latter was paid separately to smuggle five other persons. When he was caught, Castro was set to deliver the last of the seven illegal aliens.

In another case, immigration officers arrested two illegal aliens on January 25 near San Diego. One of them was Mexican national who was also a DACA recipient. With a criminal conviction, DACA beneficiaries are stripped of the privilege.

Castro was one of the 890,000 illegal immigrants who were approved DACA and could have been among the millions of illegal aliens who would stand to receive amnesty under proposals being considered by Congress. In September, President Trump announced a phaseout of the program and a deadline of March 5. DACA was intended for persons who came into the country as minors and as victims of their parents’ decision to enter illegally. Immigration advocates have portrayed them sympathetically, claiming that many have gone on to receive university degrees. Detractors claim otherwise.

Last month, TheDream.us -- a college scholarship fund for DACA illegal immigrants -- named Edder Martinez as “Dreamer of the Day.” According to the nonprofit, Martinez did not know of his illegal status until he was a senior in high school in 2007. Arizona law prohibited him from receiving a break in college tuition that is afforded to legal residents. When he became a DACA recipient, he was then able to pay in-state rates at Arizona State University, where he enrolled. In a statement to TheDream.us, Martinez said, “Because of DACA, I own a car, I have a mortgage, and I have a steady job with benefits and a 401(k),” he said in a statement from TheDream.US. “I am able to have a Social Security card. I have the ability to work legally and pay taxes. I have a driver’s license, and I can pay in-state tuition. DACA has allowed me to pursue my dreams, unencumbered. For this I am eternally grateful.”
 

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Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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