One of the undocumented migrants found dead in an overheated tractor-trailor in San Antonio early Sunday morning had been a recipient of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, officials said.
His status with the program, known as DACA, was revoked and he was deported to Guatemala in March 2017 after he was convicted of assault and battery by a mob and suspected of being an MS-13 gang member, Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Carissa Cutrell said.
Frank Guisseppe Fuentes González, 20, of Guatemala City, was one of 10 migrants who died after dozens were crammed inside a tractor-trailer in 100-degree Texas weather without air conditioning or access to food or water. Those in the truck took turns breathing from a hole in the truck as they attempted to survive a harrowing journey to the United States.
Authorities called to the 18-wheeler found eight people already dead and another 30-40 injured, many of whom had heat strokes or heat-related injuries, officials said. Two others died at the hospital shortly afterward.
Fuentes González was attempting to meet with his family in the United States, officials said.
The details of his prior immigration status underline the stakes of the debate over DACA and other immigration-related laws, and their sometimes life-or-death consequences.
The driver of the tractor-trailer, James Matthew Bradley Jr., said he was not aware of the cargo in his vehicle and only discovered it when he parked at a Walmart and went outside to urinate. The 60-year-old was charged on Monday with knowingly transporting undocumented immigrants.
Fuentes González originally entered the United States unlawfully in July 2000, ICE said. He was arrested in July 2016 and issued a notice to appear in immigration court. In February 2017, an immigration judge issued him a final order of removal, and he was removed to Guatemala on March 2, ICE said.
DACA, created by former President Barack Obama’s executive order in 2012, allows certain young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children to stay without fear of deportation.
Applicants to the program must have arrived in the United States before turning 16 and must have lived in the United States continuously since June 15, 2007. If approved, DACA recipients can obtain driver’s licenses and get legal jobs, among other things.
President Donald Trump promised on the campaign trail to dismantle the program, but he has since taken a softer line on it.
“DACA is a very, very difficult subject for me, I will tell you. To me, it’s one of the most difficult subjects I have because you have these incredible kids,” Trump said in February. “We’re gonna deal with DACA with heart.”