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Border Patrol: DACA recipient detained for alien smuggling

FILE PHOTO: A North Hollywood man who has DACA status has been detained by immigration officials  in an alien smuggling case. His attorney and family members say no charges have been filed and he has no criminal record.
FILE PHOTO: A North Hollywood man who has DACA status has been detained by immigration officials in an alien smuggling case. His attorney and family members say no charges have been filed and he has no criminal record.
ICE via Getty Images

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A 22-year-old man who has been living and working in Los Angeles under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program has been detained because he is suspected of alien smuggling, federal officials said Thursday.

U.S. Border Patrol officials said they arrested Jesus Alonso Arreola Robles of North Hollywood in San Diego County on Feb. 12. Arreola is now detained in a Georgia facility and faces deportation.

No criminal charges have been filed against him, said Los Angeles attorney Joseph Porta, who is representing Arreola. Porta said Thursday that he has only seen paperwork charging Arreola with being in the country illegally.

Speaking along with family members at a press conference, Porta said Arreola has no criminal record and has been twice renewed for DACA, the program that grants temporary protection from deportation and work permits to young immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children. 

Porta would not elaborate on any allegations against his client. Federal officials did not release details of Arreola’s arrest. Cases of alien smuggling typically involve the transportation of immigrants into the country illegally.

But Porta said the charge of being in the U.S. illegally is easy to prove because DACA recipients must admit this to apply for the program.

According to his family, Arreola came from Mexico to the United States when he was 18 months old. He attended college for a time, works in a hotel and moonlights as an Uber and Lyft driver.

Porta said he has been unable to gain access to his client, who was transferred from California to Arizona and then to Georgia, where he remains in the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

"The fact that I can’t get a hold of anybody is extremely troublesome," the attorney said.

Arreola's mother, Rosa Robles, said she's had only limited contact with her son by phone.

"For me, it is a great uncertainty, if they are going to send  him to Mexico," she said in Spanish. "I don't know what to do." 

Arreola’s girlfriend, Crystal Alvarado, described him as family-oriented. He has a disabled younger sister whom he helps care for, she said.

"His priority is his sisters," said Alvarado, 22. "He has three little sisters. He's the oldest." 

DACA recipients have had their temporary residency status terminated in the past, according to federal officials, but Arreola's detention is among the first involving DACA recipients since President Donald Trump took office.

The president's stepped up policies on immigration enforcement have increased fears among DACA recipients that they could be subject to deportation, although the administration said this week that the program created during the Obama administration remains in effect. 

Earlier this month, federal agents arrested DACA recipient Daniel Medina Ramirez at his father’s home near Seattle. Officials said he is an admitted gang member, but his attorney denied he has a criminal record. His attorneys have been seeking his immediate release.