SEATTLE — A judge ruled Tuesday that federal court has jurisdiction to hear the constitutional claims raised by a detained Mexican immigrant ‘Dreamer’ instead of having his case go to immigration court. But the judge also declined to immediately release Daniel Ramirez Medina.
“We are pleased that the court rejected the government’s effort to evade judicial review,” said attorney Theodore J. Boutrous Jr., a member of Ramirez’s legal team. “This is an important ruling because one of the core purposes of habeas corpus is to ensure judicial review of executive detentions and hold the executive branch accountable.”
In the ruling Tuesday, Chief U.S. Magistrate Judge James P. Donohue denied the government’s motion to dismiss the suit so that Ramirez’s case could go immediately before immigration court. Donohue ruled federal court has jurisdiction to hear Ramirez’s claims.
The court also recommended that because Ramirez remains in custody, and because there are nearly 800,000 DACA beneficiaries who are interested in the outcome of these proceedings, that the merits phase of the case be treated on an expedited schedule.
Ramirez argued that his arrest and detention violate his constitutional rights, and his case has focused attention on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program as President Donald Trump adopts a harder line on immigration.
Ramirez, 24, who came to the U.S. with his family at age 7, has no criminal record and twice passed background checks to participate in the DACA program, which allows young people brought to the country illegally as children to stay and obtain work permits.
Immigration agents arrested his father, described as a previously deported felon, outside a suburban apartment complex on Feb. 10. They found Ramirez inside and arrested him too.
In arrest reports, immigration agents said Ramirez admitted having gang ties and had a gang tattoo on his forearm. Such indications of a threat to public safety can provide grounds for canceling someone's participation in DACA as a threat to public safety, the government maintains.
But Ramirez's attorneys have denied both allegations, saying the supposed gang tattoo pays homage to the city of La Paz in Mexico's Baja California Sur state where he was born.
“Our objective all along has been to end this DREAMer’s nightmare so that Daniel Ramirez may return to his family and his three-year-old citizen child,” said Mark Rosenbaum, director of Opportunity Under Law at Public Counsel, and a member of Ramirez’s legal team. “While the court today has taken one step towards justice, the government’s attempts to delay justice for this young man who has been detained now for over a month and never been charged with any crime sends an unmistakable message that the word of executive branch cannot be trusted, that it can ‘play bait and switch’ with the life of a DACA recipient.”
Lawyers representing the Justice Department had no immediate comment.