Daniel Ramirez Medina was sleeping at his father’s home in Des Moines, Washington on Friday when Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents showed up. They were there to arrest Ramirez’s father, but decided to ask Ramirez whether or not he is in the country legally.
Ramirez informed the ICE agents that he has a work permit that was issued under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Regardless, he was arrested and taken to a detention center in Tacoma.
Ramirez, 23, was brought to the United States from Mexico by his parents when he was only 7 years old. In 2014, he became a became a DACA recipient, which he was again granted in 2016.
DACA is a program that was created by executive order under President Obama. It gives immigrants who meet certain requirements and were brought to the U.S. as young children without documented status the opportunity to stay in the country, get Social Security numbers and apply for work permits. Basically, it keeps recipients from being deported and allows them to legally work in the country. That’s why Ramirez’s arrest is so surprising – because he is in the U.S. legally, under DACA protection.
This might be the first detention of a “dreamer” (a term derived from a never-passed proposal called the DREAM Act that would have provided protections similar to DACA’s) under the Trump administration. “Dreamers” have to pass background checks and have been authorized by the Obama administration to live and work in the U.S., but it remains to be seen if the Trump administration will honor those promises.
Ramirez has no criminal record and his lawyers have filed a lawsuit in Washington state’s federal court claiming that he is “presently detained without justification” and that he is not a “threat to national security or public safety.”
ICE, however, has a different story. Rose Richeson, ICE 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 February 10 by US 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.”
Mark Rosenbaum, one of Ramirez’s lawyers, is calling B.S. on the account ICE is giving and issued the following statement: “Mr. Ramirez unequivocally denies being in a gang. While in custody, he was repeatedly pressured by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents to falsely admit affiliation. The statement issued tonight by Ms. Richeson of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement is inaccurate.”
Ramirez’s lawyers are hoping that the detention is a mistake. Rosebaum says, “We have no reason to believe that promise will be broken. This case should not see the inside of a courtroom.”
Details of Ramirez’s arrest are still developing…