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No release for detained immigrant: What it means for 800K other DACA recipients

SEATTLE — A local man is at the center of a case that could affect 800,000 immigrants illegally brought to the U.S. as children.

Daniel Ramirez Medina, 24, was born in Mexico and brought to the US illegally when he was a child.  He’s now lawfully allowed to live, work, and study in the US, but he was arrested and detained more than a month ago.  Tuesday, we learned Ramirez’s story is taking the whole county into uncharted waters.

Chief United States Magistrate Judge James P. Donohue ruled Ramirez will be staying in a Tacoma detention center after denying his release.  Ramirez’s lawyers say they will contest that decision.

However, his lawyers are claiming victory as their case will be heard in federal court and not in front of an immigration court.  Lawyers say in federal court, a judge will decide whether Ramirez’s arrest and detention violated his constitutional rights.

ICE agents booked and detained Daniel Ramirez a little over a month ago, initially accusing him of being a self-admitted gang member.  They also say he has a gang tattoo, while his attorneys deny Ramirez ever admitted to being a gang member and say he is not a gang member.

Whatever happens to Ramirez, this case has huge implications not just for him, but also for the 800,000 DACA recipients across the nation.  That’s why Judge Donohue wants this case to advance quickly; though it’s far from cut and dry.

Having a DACA card, which is exactly what Daniel Ramirez was issued by the US Department of Homeland Security twice, is basically a promise from the federal government.  After someone applies, pays money, and goes through an extensive background check, the DACA card allows them to stay in the US for two years at a time.

But the question that has yet to be answered is: Does the DACA card give you constitutional rights like due process or the right to a fair trial?  Ramirez’s lawyers believe it does, but right now there’s no law that says so. It’s something Judge Donohue pointed out today saying, in part, ““…could result in a determination that although DACA establishes a basis for lawful presence in the United States, it does not create a constitutionally protected liberty interest, and the actions of the ICE officers were constitutionally appropriate."

So this all means that whatever happens to Ramirez, it will set a precedent for all DACA recipients.  We could finally get the answer to what, if any, rights they may have.  It may also add clarification as to how they will be treated if arrested and detained.

One of Ramirez’s attorneys, Seattle-based Luis Cortes, says he visits Ramirez two to three times a day.  He says Ramirez is learning origami so he can give gifts to his son and Ramirez has joined a prayer group. But Ramirez has never been detained or jailed before, so his attorneys say all of this is taking a toll on him.