Daniel Ramirez Medina, an undocumented immigrant whose arrest drew national attention, was released Wednesday from a detention center in Tacoma, Washington.
“I’m very grateful for all the people who supported me,” Ramirez told reporters in Spanish just minutes after his release.
Ramirez, 23, was released after posting a $15,000 bond, his legal team said.
His arrest in February raised alarm among immigrant groups because Ramirez is a Dreamer, an undocumented immigrant who was brought to the United States as a child. That group was considered a lower priority for arrest and deportation during the Obama administration.
Authorities say that Ramirez’s parents brought him to the United States from Mexico illegally when he was 7. He had been granted deferred action and employment authorization twice under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA, according his attorneys.
“I know that this isn’t over, but I’m hopeful for the future, for me and for the hundreds of thousands of other Dreamers who love this country like I do,” Ramirez said in a statement.
Immigration Judge John Odell granted bond on Tuesday after Ramirez testified for about 40 minutes, according to his legal team.
Ramirez spent six weeks at an ICE detention center in Tacoma after his February 10 arrest in Des Moines, Washington, a suburb south of Seattle. He remained in ICE custody for nearly two months despite having two separate opportunities to be released, immigration officials said. Ramirez’s legal team canceled a bond hearing scheduled for February 23, officials said.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said Ramirez had admitted to being a gang member. His attorneys denied the accusation.
For Roger Arellano, 40, a family friend of Ramirez, the accusations were just a way to cover the fact that an immigrant with a DACA work permit was detained.
“He’s never belonged to a gang. That’s a lie,” Arellano said. “The government was looking for a way to cover its error. That really bothers me. It makes me mad.”
Arellano is just one of many friends and family who had been supporting Ramirez since he was detained in February.
He said he is looking forward to seeing Ramirez after he is released today to invite him to have some chilaquiles, a traditional Mexican breakfast of fried tortillas and salsa.
Who are the Dreamers?
The name “Dreamer” comes from the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act, or DREAM Act. The bill would have created a pathway to citizenship for undocumented children who grew up in the United States. It was first introduced in 2001 but failed to pass through it was reintroduced in Congress several times.
DACA, which Obama established by executive order in 2012, created a temporary means for Dreamers to live and work in the country legally, as long as they pass background checks.
About 750,000 applications were approved between 2012 and 2016, according to US Customs and Immigration Services data.
The case has raised questions among immigrant rights groups about what it could mean for other Dreamers.
Other Dreamers arrested
In Portland, Emmanuel Ayala Frutos was arrested by ICE at his home early Sunday morning without a warrant.
Over the weekend, Francisco J. Rodriguez Dominguez, 25, was arrested after federal agents showed up at his Portland home. He was released on bond Monday.
Daniela Vargas, 22, was arrested in early March after sharing her family’s story during a news conference in Jackson, Mississippi. She was released after two weeks in custody.