A man accused of killing a South Carolina high school student had been protected from deportation under the DACA program, U.S. officials confirmed to Fox News Thursday evening.
Daniel De Jesus Rangel-Sherrer, 19, is accused of murder, kidnapping and possession of a weapon during a violent crime in connection with the death of 18-year-old Diana Martinez-Gonzalez.
Martinez-Gonzalez, a junior at Greenville High School, was found dead in a wooded area Oct. 4. Officials said she had been forced into the woods and shot multiple times in the head.
"Immediately upon contact, [Rangel-Sherrer] confessed to one of the deputies," Greenville County Sheriff Will Lewis told reporters.
Investigators said a friend of Martinez-Gonzalez was also held against her will by the suspect, but she managed to escape and contact authorities. It's not clear how Rangel-Sherrer and Martinez-Gonzalez knew each other.
The day after Rangel-Sherrer's arrest, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) issued a detainer order for the suspect, who was in the U.S. illegally from Mexico. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) later confirmed that Rangel-Sherrer was a DACA recipient.
DACA was created by former President Barack Obama in 2012 and protected an estimated 800,000 undocumented youths from deportation. Recipients were able to request "deferred action" for two years if they were 30 years old or younger on June 15, 2012 or came to the U.S. before turning 16 and had continuously lived in the country since June 15, 2007.
Last month, the Trump administration announced plans to wind down the program by March 5, 2018 and put pressure on Congress to find a legislative fix for the issue.