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DACA recipients arrested on suspicion of human smuggling

A man who was in the U.S. under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and another man whose DACA protections had expired were arrested on suspicion of human smuggling in two separate incidents last week, federal officials said Monday.

The DACA program gave some immigrants in the U.S. illegally who were brought to the country as children two-year renewable permits protecting them from deportation and allowing them to work.

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In September, President Trump announced the program would end, although he's since signaled a willingness to compromise.

Border agents were sent Wednesday to an area near Torrey Pines State Beach after a resident spotted what appeared to be smuggling, federal officials said. Further investigation led agents to a vehicle suspected of being involved, which they pulled over on the 5 Freeway near Dairy Mart Road in San Ysidro about 12:10 p.m.

Three men were inside: the driver, a 20-year-old DACA recipient whose status had expired, and two Mexican nationals ages 21 and 22 who were suspected of being in the country illegally.

Federal officials said the driver and his cousin, the 22-year-old passenger, told agents they had been involved in human smuggling in the area. The driver is in federal custody.

In a separate incident, Border Patrol agents had just arrested two people suspected of being in the country illegally when they spotted two suspicious vehicles on Buckman Springs Road in Campo about 8 a.m. Thursday.

The agents followed one of the vehicles — a blue Honda sedan — and conducted an immigration inspection at a nearby checkpoint.

The driver — a 22-year-old Mexican national who lived in Riverside County as a DACA recipient — ultimately told agents that he and another driver were scouting the area to aid a group of smugglers, federal officials said.

The agents also learned the man had committed other acts of human smuggling, federal officials said. The suspect, who was not identified, is in Department of Homeland Security custody awaiting removal proceedings. Agents later arrested another man, a 25-year-old U.S. citizen, who was also suspected in the smuggling scheme.

Winkley writes for the San Diego Union-Tribune.

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