Daniel Ramirez Medina is a 23-year-old DACA recipient who was detained near Seattle.
Daniel Ramirez Medina is a 23-year-old DACA recipient who was detained near Seattle. HG

A federal judge this morning declined to grant the immediate release of Daniel Ramirez Medina, the 23-year-old recipient of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) who was detained by immigration enforcement near Seattle last week.

Instead, U.S. Magistrate Judge James Donohue said today Ramirez Medina can apply for a bond hearing before an immigration judge and that hearing must happen within a week. If an immigration judge can't hear it in that time, Donohue said, "this matter can be returned to me." Ramirez Medina is currently being held at the Tacoma Northwest Detention Center.

Lawyers for Ramirez Medina have filed a complaint challenging his detention. Yesterday, they alleged that immigration officials doctored a statement given by Ramirez Medina in an effort to prove he was involved with gangs, an allegation his lawyers deny. A spokesperson for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) told The Stranger she was not familiar with that allegation and ICE "stand[s] by all statements previously released related to this case."

In court today, Ramirez Medina's lawyers argued he should be immediately released because the feds have no evidence he committed a crime. Arresting him and stripping him of his DACA status, they argued, was unconstitutional. But Judge Donohue ruled that an immigration judge should have the first shot at determining whether Ramirez Medina ought to be released. If Ramirez Medina's lawyers didn't like the immigration judge's determination, Donohue added, the issue of releasing him from detention could return to his courtroom.

"I recognize the unusual nature of this case," Donohue added later, "and I also recognize the fact that there are many people in similar situations as Mr. Ramirez who want answers to similar questions."

In addition to ordering the bond hearing, Donohue also requested an expedited case schedule to hear more arguments about why Ramirez Medina's lawsuit over the alleged violations of his constitutional rights should be heard in federal court. The government has argued that a federal court doesn't have jurisdiction over Ramirez Medina's case and that his claims should be heard, instead, in an immigration court, which exists within the Department of Justice.

At stake, Ramirez Medina's lawyers said, are the fates of some 750,000 DACA recipients across the country who wonder if they, too, could be "kidnapped" by ICE and detained until an immigration judge rules on removal proceedings.

"We want to get our client out of detention; it violates the Constitution," Theodore Boutrous, Jr., one of Ramirez Medina's attorneys, said. "We're glad the court is expediting. We wanted to get him out today. But we really hope the government will come to its senses. There's no basis for detaining our client. It's outrageous."

The lead attorney on Ramirez Medina's case, Luis Cortes Romero, is also a DACA recipient.

"This is what makes this so much more egregious; that Daniel is just like me," Cortes Romero told reporters outside the federal courthouse. "DACA is much more than just a work permit. DACA allows individuals to have a voice. DACA is the U.S. recognizing that we're here, and DACA also gives us a home. DACA allows us the ability to be integrated into our community."

In a press conference yesterday, President Donald Trump promised to "show great heart" toward DACA recipients, but the Los Angeles Times reports his administration is still actively be looking at ways to roll back their protections. The Associated Press reported this morning that the Trump administration considered using the National Guard to round up undocumented immigrants.

Seattle City Council member Lorena González, who was at the hearing today and has criticized ICE's arrest of Ramirez Medina, said she was disappointed in today's result.

"We still need answer[s] from ICE and will follow closely as this court pursues them," González said in a statement. "Seattle stands with all people that consider this country their home."

Speaking to reporters after the hearing, González said ICE has refused to meet with the mayor, city council, and Seattle's Congressional delegation about the case. "We're experiencing the same level of stonewalling and lack of transparency [from ICE] here in Seattle and it's certainly not for lack of trying on our part to get more information," she said. "They just have refused to meet with us."

Outside the courthouse today, several hundred activists gathered and marched to demand Ramirez Medina's release.

"I'm afraid that someone is going to come looking for someone else... and arrest me and deport me," one DACA recipient from Tacoma told the crowd. "We need to stop deportations. We need to stop making people think that we're criminals. We're not."