SEATTLE — A Seattle “Dreamer” who is said to have committed no crime sits behind bars and faces possible deportation.
Daniel Ramirez Medina, 23, was taken into custody by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement on Friday. ICE says he’s a self-admitted gang member, but Ramirez’s lawyers say that’s not true and they say he doesn’t have a criminal record.
“Dreamers” are people who came to the United States when they were children, illegally brought here by their parents. Largely, “Dreamers” are English-speaking and have only really called the U.S. home.
DACA stands for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. It was an initiative created under the Obama administration. To become a DACA recipient, one has to fill out a very long application that asks for basic identifying information and more detailed information like sending in your school records and proof you’re an active, good member of society. It also requires an extensive criminal background check.
Even after you’re approved, it is not forever. Every two years, a DACA recipient must renew and prove they are still an active, good member of society who hasn’t committed any crimes. Once you get a DACA permit, you can live, work, and study legally in the U.S. without fear of deportation.
Diana Camacho, 32, came to the U.S. from Mexico when she was just 14 years old with her family.
“I knew that I didn’t have legal papers or legal status, but I just didn’t realize what it was being 'undocumented',” said DACA recipient Camacho.
Soon she learned of the limitation of being undocumented going to school, finding work, and overall security. So in 2012, when President Barack Obama told the country about the DACA immigration policy, she immediately applied. After eight months, she was approved.
“It was great. It was a whole new opportunity for me to be in this country, living and working properly, it was just amazing,” said Camacho.
But this week she heard about Ramirez from Seattle. He’s a DACA recipient just like her, but he was arrested and detained by ICE.
“When I was reading the story of this Dreamer, I was thinking of my brother. Because it happened to us, too,” said Camacho.
She said her brother was not a gang member or a criminal, but he was undocumented and deported back over the border to Mexico eight years ago.
Camacho is a DACA recipient, but after Ramirez's case, the fear of deportation is very real.
“I haven’t done anything. I just went to college. And I’ve been living here for so long. And I’ve been working here, doing everything right,” said Camacho.
She told us her father applied to be a legal U.S. citizen some 16 years ago. She, her father, mother and brother are all on her father's application. She says they’ve spoken with a handful of immigration lawyers who say they have to wait six more years to get approved. So that could mean a process that could take as long as 22 years when it’s all said and done.
Friday morning, Daniel Ramirez Medina will have a hearing at U.S. District Court in Seattle. His lawyers will ask ICE to make its case as to why it detained Ramirez. This will likely be the first time we hear why ICE claims Ramirez is gang-affiliated and the evidence they may have. His lawyers also add that it’s unlikely Ramirez will actually appear in court on Friday and it’s unlikely he’ll be released at that point.