Immigrant protected under Obama ‘Dreamer’ program fighting detention by ICE agents here
SEATTLE — A man who was brought to the U.S. illegally as a child but was protected from deportation by the Obama administration has been taken into custody in the Seattle area in what could be the first case of its kind in the country.
The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said 23-year-old Daniel Ramirez Medina was detained Friday by ICE agents.
Northwest Immigrants Rights Project Legal Director Matt Adams said that agents were at the Seattle home to arrest the man’s father and that they took both men into custody. Ramirez, who was brought to the country when he was 7 years of age, has a work permit under Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. He’s been held in a federal detention facility in Tacoma since Friday.
Rose Richeson, a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesperson, said: “Mr. Ramirez—a self-admitted gang member—was encountered at a residence in Des Moines, Washington, during an operation targeting a prior-deported felon. He was arrested Feb. 10 by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and transferred to the Northwest Detention Center to await the outcome of removal proceedings before an immigration judge with the Department of Justice’s Executive Office for Immigration Review.
"ICE officers took Mr. Ramirez into custody based on his admitted gang affiliation and risk to public safety,” Richeson said.
But Mark Rosenbaum, counsel for Daniel Ramirez, issued the following statement: “Mr. Ramirez unequivocally denies being in a gang. While in custody, he was repeatedly pressured by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents to falsely admit affiliation. The statement issued tonight by Ms. Richeson of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is inaccurate.”
According to a record obtained by Los Angeles Times, lawyers for Ramirez filed a petition in federal court asking the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and new Secretary John Kelly for Ramirez's release. The petition says Ramirez is "a law-abiding young father who has twice been granted deferred action and employment authorization card under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program established by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security."
It says Ramirez, a father of a U.S. citizen, is being "presently detained without justification" sand says "DHS has twice determined that Mr. Ramirez poses no threat to national security or public safety."
According to the petition, when ICE officers entered his father's home on Friday, they asked Ramirez "'Are you legally here?' Mr. Ramirez replied, 'Yes, I have a work permit.' On the recommendations of his brother (a DACA recipient who was also then present), Mr. Ramirez declined to answer additional questions at that time."
When taken to a processing center in Seattle, the petition says, he again informed agents about his work permit and one of the ICE agents stated: 'It doesn't matter, because you weren't born in this county.'"
The petition went on to state that Ramirez "has not committed any crime" and was not being held in jail on probable cause charges.
Adams said Ramirez is the first person he knows of with DACA status who has been detained.
Former Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn tweeted about the case Tuesday
Tuesday night, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and City Councilwoman Lorena Gonzalez issued that statement that read, in part, "Information about the arrest of a DACA recipient last Friday remains scarce and questions remain unanswered by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). More details should be released about what led to this arrest, including whether the detention of a DACA recipient is a shift in immigration policy related to DACA recipients. We have sought these answers from ICE’s Seattle Field Office."