An attorney says immigration officials are making “shocking” statements about his client, a recipient of Deferred Action, the federal program that provides young immigrants a temporary work permit and protections from deportation.
Daniel Ramirez Medina, 23, was taken into custody at his home in Seattle on Friday, February 10, the last day of a nationwide immigration raids operation. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials said the raids targeted “criminal aliens, convicted of crimes,” but Ramirez Medina has never been convicted of a crime, according to a lawsuit filed on his behalf.
ICE claims they are detaining Ramirez Medina because he is “a self-admitted gang member,” according to a statement they provided to Reuters, who first reported the arrest.
“It’s shocking and deeply regrettable that the United States government would make such defamatory and harmful statements about a private individual,” Mark Rosenbaum, counsel for Ramirez Medina, said in a statement sent to Fusion.
Rosenbaum said that after Ramirez Medina was taken into custody “he was repeatedly pressured by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents to falsely admit affiliation.” He said “Mr. Ramirez unequivocally denies being in a gang.”
Another attorney for Ramirez Medina claims ICE is accusing his client of gang affiliation based on a tattoo. The tattoo reads “La Paz BCS,” in reference to the capital of Baja California Sur, where Ramirez Medina was born, attorney Luis Cortes Romero told the Seattle Times.
ICE declined to comment on Medina's tattoo, but the official familiar with the case told Fusion "there is corroborating evidence supporting this man’s admission related to his gang involvement. I believe these details will come out in tomorrow’s hearing."
A judge has ordered ICE to explain their basis for detaining Ramirez Medina and whether he is in deportation proceedings. The hearing is scheduled for Friday morning.
“If the government is so confident in these outrageous claims they are making, then they should prove it in their 9:00 AM brief to the Court tomorrow,” Rosenbaum told Fusion.
The government twice granted Ramirez Medina DACA after conducting background checks, according to the lawsuit filed on behalf of Ramirez.
“He has never been convicted of a crime, and he does not pose any threat to national security or public safety – a fact that DHS has twice confirmed by granting and renewing his DACA status,” the lawsuit states.
According to the lawsuit, ICE agents entered Ramirez Medina’s house to arrest his father, but they ended up arresting Ramirez Medina after they allegedly asked him if was in the country legally. Ramirez was detained after he revealed he had a work permit and temporary protection of deportation through DACA.
On the recommendation of his brother, Ramirez Medina declined to answer additional questions posed by the ICE agents. Ramirez Medina's brother, who is also a DACA recipient, was also present in the room but was not arrested, according to the lawsuit.
During targeted immigration raids, ICE officers frequently conduct “collateral” arrests of other undocumented immigrants who were present or nearby. An estimated 25% of the 680 immigrants arrested in last week’s raids had no criminal records, according to ICE.
The lawsuit alleges Ramirez Medina ’s detention “breaks the promise made to him under the well-established framework of the DACA program, violates his reasonable expectations based on the DACA program, and violates his rights under the Fourth and Fifth Amendments to the United States Constitution.”
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) continues to accept DACA applications. USCIS timestamps on the DACA application web page was last reviewed and updated on Feb., 2, 2017, a week before Ramirez Medina’s arrest.
Representatives from the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, a Washington state organization that provides legal services to immigrants and who are part of Ramirez Medina’s legal team, said they believe Ramirez’s arrest is an isolated incident and not an indication that ICE is going after DACA recipients.
Ramirez Medina is still in custody and could not be reached for comment.