Federal Agents Arrest Immigrant Protected Under ‘Dreamer’ Program in Seattle, Lawsuit Says

Jimmy Medina-Ortiz, 9, attends a Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles news conference on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. (Credit: Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times)

U.S. immigration officials have detained a 23-year-old man from Washington state, who was authorized to remain in the country under a program established by the Obama administration.

The man, Daniel Ramirez Medina, has twice been granted deferred action and employment authorization under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, his lawyers said. The program, announced in 2012, is meant to temporarily shield qualified individuals from deportation. The case raises questions about the status of “Dreamers,” undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children.

So far, the government and Ramirez’s lawyers have presented very different depictions of him.

His lawyers have filed suit in federal court in Washington state saying their client is being unlawfully held by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials. They argue he is being “presently detained without justification” and that he presents “no threat to national security or public safety.”

An ICE spokesperson, however, offered a different account Tuesday night.

ICE said Ramirez was taken into custody “based on his admitted gang affiliation and risk to public safety.”

Rose Richeson, an 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 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.”

The conflicting stories come amid immigrant rights attorneys’ fears the Trump administration will target the Dreamers, who were temporarily authorized under the Obama administration’s program and allowed to live and work in the United States after passing background checks.

Mark Rosenbaum, counsel for Ramirez, issued the following statement: “Mr. Ramirez unequivocally denies being in a gang. 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.”

According to the court papers filed by Ramirez’s attorney, ICE agents arrived Friday at Ramirez’s father’s house. The agents had an arrest warrant for the father. The papers allege the ICE officials asked if Ramirez was in the state legally and he responded that he was.