Reuters reports that US Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrested Daniel Ramirez Medina, a 23-year-old Mexican immigrant who came to the United States as a child and has no criminal record, in Seattle on Friday. According to the report, Ramirez was granted a work permit under the Obama administration's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) and his arrest could be the first of its kind under a Trump presidency. Young people covered by this program are often known as "dreamers."
According to the lawsuit, Ramirez was asleep at his father's home last Friday morning when ICE agents arrived and arrested the father. When they entered, they asked Ramirez if he was in the country legally, and Ramirez said he had a work permit, the lawsuit stated.
ICE agents took Ramirez to a processing center in Seattle and he again disclosed his DACA work permit, the lawsuit stated.
"It doesn't matter, because you weren't born in this country," one of the agents said, according to the lawsuit.
Ramirez has filed a complaint in federal court against his detention; according to the Reuters story, he's still being held at the Tacoma Northwest Detention Center as of today. We'll update when we know more.
Update 3:57 pm: According to the complaint, Ramirez has been granted a work permit under DACA twice and is the father of a three-year-old son, a US citizen. Ramirez's lawyers claim that DACA dreamers were given the "reasonable expectation" that these work permits meant they could not be arrested and deported. The complaint asks the court to release Ramirez and alleges violations of due process under the Fifth Amendment and unlawful seizure under the Fourth Amendment.
"Mr. Ramirez’s unprecedented and unjustified detention violates the United States Constitution and the promise made to him that he could live and work in this country without being subject to arrest and deportation solely as a result of his immigration status," Ramirez's lawyers write in the complaint. "The agents who arrested and questioned Mr. Ramirez were aware that he was a DACA recipient, yet they informed him that he would be arrested, detained, and deported anyway, because he was not 'born in this country.'"
Here's how the complaint alleges the arrest occurred:
19. Nevertheless, Mr. Ramirez was taken into custody by several ICE agents at or around 9:00 a.m. PST on Friday, February 10, 2017. Mr. Ramirez was asleep at his father’s home in Seattle, Washington when the agents arrived and arrested Mr. Ramirez’s father. The agents had an arrest warrant for Mr. Ramirez’s father.
20. Following his arrest, Mr. Ramirez’s father granted the ICE officers permission to enter his home so that he could inform his two sons about his arrest. When the ICE agents entered the home, they asked Mr. Ramirez, “Are you legally here?” Mr. Ramirez replied, “Yes, I have a work permit.” On the recommendation of his brother (a DACA recipient who was also then present), Mr. Ramirez declined to answer additional questions at that time.
21. The ICE agents then took Mr. Ramirez to a processing center in Seattle, Washington. When he again informed them about his work permit, one of the ICE agents stated: “It doesn’t matter, because you weren’t born in this country.” At this point, the ICE agents had Mr. Ramirez’s wallet, which contained his work permit, which clearly identified him as a DACA recipient with a “C-33” code, which reflects a work authorization issued pursuant to DACA. Despite this fact, Mr. Ramirez was questioned further, fingerprinted, booked, and taken to a detention center in Tacoma, Washington.
An ICE public information officer was not immediately available for comment. A spokesperson for Ramirez's legal team told The Stranger that they understand Ramirez's next hearing to be this coming Friday, but Ramirez will not appear.
Update 4:20 pm: "Let's not forget that this administration is going to go after everyone," Maru Mora Villalpando, an organizer with Latino Advocacy, said. "This isn't just about DACA; it's about every low-income immigrant of color in the United States."
Villalpando, who has organized frequent protests against the Northwest Immigration Detention Center, says that Trump's first executive action allows sweeping discretion from individual ICE officers to detain immigrants of color.
"[Obama] didn't create this deportation machine, but he made it huge," Villalpando said. "And he gave the keys of this deportation machine to someone willing to use it at 100 miles per hour."
Update 4:26 pm: Senator Maria Cantwell's office says that she is working with Senator Patty Murray to make contact with ICE over Ramirez's arrest.
"It is unacceptable that DREAMERS, who were brought to the US as children and have grown up and gone to school here are being detained," Cantwell said in an e-mailed statement. "I am looking into this troubling situation."
Update 4:54 pm: Jorge Barón, executive director of the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project and co-counsel for Ramirez, says that he believes Ramirez's arrest to be an isolated error. Barón doesn't think that the government has deliberately started to go after immigrants with DACA status, but he's concerned that ICE is returning to older deportation tactics that target family members of intended detainees. (In this case, Barón says, lawyers understand that ICE intended to arrest Ramirez's father.)
"For the last few years, [ICE] has picked up people, but they would not generally pick up anybody else in the household," Barón said. "What we've seen happening last week throughout the country, they're returning to some of the old tactics of the Bush administration where they go after anyone else they encounter."
Update 5:06 pm: An aide for Senator Patty Murray says: "This report is highly disturbing and could send many families in Washington state and around the country back into the shadows. Our office is working to get more information from federal officials and will then evaluate next steps.”
Update 5:45 pm: Governor Jay Inslee's office also says they're reaching out to federal officials. "We are hopeful this is a mistake," Inslee spokesperson Jaime Smith added in an e-mail. "Arbitrarily depriving DREAMers and DACA recipients of their rights is unacceptable. We hope federal officials will provide more information as soon as possible."
Update 5:56 pm: Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal is demanding Ramirez's release. “President’s Trump’s deportation force has struck our community and taken one of our own," Jayapal said in an e-mailed statement. "It’s unconscionable that Daniel, who trusted the government and registered under DACA, was picked up and sent to a detention center."
Update 6:13 pm: ICE is claiming that Ramirez is a "self-admitted gang member." ICE spokesperson Rose Richeson issued the following statement:
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.
Update 10 pm: Ramirez's lawyer says that he "unequivocally denies being in a gang." Lawyer Mark Rosenbaum continued: "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.”