Former child immigrant protected under DACA act will remain in detention
Daniel Ramirez Medina, the first recipient of Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) protections to be detained by immigration officials under the Trump administration, will remain a captive. The magistrate judge who presided over Ramirez’s Friday hearing said he doesn’t have the jurisdiction to order Ramirez released.
About 200 people chanting “Free Daniel now!” protested outside the Seattle courthouse as Judge James Donohue ruled that only an immigration court can hear a bond hearing for Ramirez, a Mexican immigrant who has been twice authorized for DACA protections. And because the outcome of the case could threaten the immigration status of all DACA recipients — people who came to the United States as undocumented children and are now legally allowed to live and work here — that hearing needs to happen by next Friday, Donohue said.
But getting a bond hearing in immigration court can take up to a month, Ramirez’s attorneys said. If Ramirez is detained for that long, they worry, the government could revoke Ramirez’s DACA designation before the hearing.
In a complaint filed Friday, Ramirez’s lawyers argued that recipients of DACA work permits are given the “reasonable expectation” that they won’t get picked up by immigration officials. And they’re worried that Ramirez’s detention might be the beginning of President Donald Trump’s crackdown on undocumented immigrants who had been protected against deportation.
“I’m disappointed that Daniel wasn’t released today. That was the hope,” Seattle City Councilmember Lorena González said in a Friday statement. “However, Judge Donohue’s comments indicate that he understands the gravity of the situation for both Daniel and DACA recipients across the nation…. We still need answers from [Immigration and Custom Enforcement] and will follow closely as this court pursues them.”
A second DACA recipient, 19-year-old Jose Romero, was taken into ICE custody in San Antonio on Thursday, according to the Guardian. Local police reportedly arrested Romero on Wednesday for possessing less than two ounces of marijuana — a misdemeanor in Texas — before handing him over to immigration officials. Romero was released Thursday.
ICE agents arrested Ramirez late last Friday, according to Ramirez’s complaint. He was at his father’s house when ICE agents arrived looking for his dad, who ICE described as “a prior-deported felon” in a statement. According to the lawsuit, the agents asked Ramirez, “Are you legally here?”
“Yes, I have a work permit,” he said before declining to answer any more questions. ICE agents took to him to a field office south of Seattle, according to the complaint.
At the hearing, Ramirez’s lawyers did not address the allegations that Ramirez is a “self-admitted gang member,” as an ICE statement labeled him, or that officials doctored legal documents in an attempt to prove it. Though Ramirez maintains that he doesn’t belong to any gangs, his attorneys argue that it wouldn’t even matter if he did — if everything ICE has claimed is true, Ramirez’s DACA status means he can’t be deported.
“DACA is much more than just a work permit,” Luis Cortes Romero, one of Ramirez’s attorneys, said in a press conference Friday after the hearing. “DACA provides us [the] ability to be integrated into our community. And so Daniel being detained, when he is just a person like me, is problematic.”
In an emailed statement, ICE declined to comment beyond its public filings and court statements.
Trump has signed two executive orders broadening immigration officials’ “enforcement priorities,” but his specific plans for DACA recipients are unclear. In a Thursday press conference, he told reporters, “DACA is a very difficult subject for me — you have these incredible kids. We are going to deal with DACA with heart.”