U.S. Sens. Chuck Grassley and Thom Tillis have confirmed that a 19-year-old gang member accused of murdering four people, including a former reality TV model, was granted amnesty in 2013 even though he was slated for removal because of a 2012 drug possession charge.
Emmanuel Jesus Rangel-Hernandez is the suspect in question. One of the four people he is accused of murdering in drug-related killings in Charlotte, N.C. last month is “America’s Next Top Model” contestant Mirjana Puhar.
Another man, 20-year-old David Ezequel Lopez, was arrested on Thursday in connection with the reality show star’s murder.
Grassley, from Iowa, and Tillis, from North Carolina, sent a letter to Department of Homeland Security Sec. Jeh Johnson on Friday laying out evidence that Rangel-Hernandez had applied for and was ultimately granted relief under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
DACA is President Obama’s 2012 executive action which granted protection from deportation to so-called DREAMers — aliens brought to the U.S. illegally by their parents. Obama expanded DACA in November.
In their letter, Grassley and Tillis cite a Charlotte-Mecklenburg police affidavit which shows Rangel-Hernandez was arrested for misdemeanor possession of marijuana on March 30, 2012.
“As a result of his arrest and unlawful status in the United States, Mr. Rangel-Hernandez was put into removal proceedings by Immigration and Customs Enforcement [ICE] after his arrest on March 30, 2012,” the letter reads.
But before he could be deported, Rangel-Hernandez’s DACA application was approved. His removal proceedings were dismissed on Dec. 18, 2013, Grassley and Tillis wrote. (RELATED: Was The Gang Member Who Murdered Former ‘America’s Next Top Model’ Contestant An Obama DREAMer?)
The letter also references whistleblowers who “have alleged that Mr. Rangel-Hernandez’s DACA application was approved although U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services [USCIS] had full knowledge that he was a known gang member.”
“This raises serious concerns about USCIS’s review and approval of other DACA applicants and points to potential vulnerabilities in the system,” the senators wrote.
Grassley and Tillis are therefore seeking information on DHS’s policies related to adjudications granted to suspected or known gang members.
The senators also seek statistics showing how many of the approved DACA applications had known or suspected gang affiliations and criminal affiliations. They would also like information on how many DACA applicants with those relationships have been denied.
Grassley sent Johnson a letter late last month inquiring whether Rangel-Hernandez was a DREAMer. Johnson did not respond by Grassley’s March 9 deadline, the new letter reads.
The recent inquiry gives Johnson until March 31 to respond.
Criminals receiving relief under DACA is a growing concern. On Thursday, it was revealed that 23 illegal aliens out of the 2,059 who were arrested in a nationwide ICE sweep earlier this month either currently are or have been part of the DACA program.