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SAN FRANCISCO U.S. authorities have arrested an
immigrant from Mexico who was brought to the United States
illegally as a child and later given a work permit during the
Obama administration in what could be the first detention of its
kind under President Donald Trump.
Daniel Ramirez Medina, a 23-year-old with no criminal
record, was taken into custody last week at his father’s home in Seattle by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers.
The officers arrived at the home to arrest the man’s father,
though court documents did no make clear the reason the father
was taken into custody.
Ramirez, now in custody in Tacoma, Washington, was granted
temporary permission to live and work legally in the United
States under a program called the Deferred Action for Childhood
Arrivals, or DACA, established in 2012 by Democratic President
Obama, according to a court filing.
The program protects from deportation 750,000 people who
were brought to the United States illegally as children,
sometimes called the “dreamers,” and gives them the temporary
right to work legally in the United States.
Trump, a Republican who took office on Jan. 20, has promised
a crackdown on the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in
the United States, most of whom come from Mexico and other Latin
American countries. A move against DACA recipients like Ramirez
would represent a significant broadening of immigration
enforcement under Trump.
Ramirez filed a challenge to his detention in Seattle
federal court on Monday, arguing that the government violated
his constitutional rights because he had work authorization
under the DACA program.
Ethan Dettmer, a partner in the law firm Gibson Dunn &
Crutcher who is one of the lawyers representing Ramirez, said he
is not aware of any other DACA recipient who has been arrested.
“We are hoping this detention was a mistake,” Dettmer said.
A BROKEN PROMISE?
Another one of his lawyers, Mark Rosenbaum of the legal
advocacy group Public Counsel, characterized the DACA program as
a promise from the federal government’s executive branch that
DACA recipients would not be targeted for deportation.
“We have no reason to believe that promise will be broken.
This case should not see the inside of a courtroom,” Rosenbaum
Ramirez was in custody and unavailable for comment.
Representatives for Immigration and Customs Enforcement declined
immediate comment on the lawsuit.
Emily Langley, a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney’s office
in Seattle, said the Justice Department is still reviewing the
U.S. immigration officers last week arrested more than 680
people in the country illegally. Department of Homeland Security
Secretary John Kelly said the operations, conducted in at least
a dozen states, were routine and consistent with regular
operations. But immigrant advocacy groups and Democrats have
expressed concern that the Trump administration will escalate
immigration enforcement efforts in line with the president’s
tough stance toward illegal immigrants.
Trump campaigned on a promise to roll back Obama’s executive
actions on immigration, but since assuming office he has kept
his public comments on DACA vague.
In an interview with ABC News last month, Trump said his
administration was devising a policy on how to deal with people
covered by DACA. “They are here illegally. They shouldn’t be
very worried. I do have a big heart. We’re going to take care of
everybody. We’re going to have a very strong border,” Trump said
at the time.
Under DACA, the government collected information including
participants’ addresses that potentially could be used to locate
and deport them if the program is reversed.
Ramirez was brought to the United States from Mexico in
about 2001 at about age 7, according to the lawsuit. The
government granted him a DACA card in 2014 and renewed it in
2016, finding that he was no threat to public safety. He has a
3-year-old son, according to the complaint.
Ramirez in his lawsuit is seeking his immediate release and
an injunction forbidding the government from arresting him
again. A hearing in the case has been scheduled for Friday.
According to the lawsuit, Ramirez was asleep at his father’s
home last Friday morning when ICE agents arrived and arrested
the father. When they entered, they asked Ramirez if he was in
the country legally, and Ramirez said he had a work permit, the
ICE agents took Ramirez to a processing center in Seattle
and he again disclosed his DACA work permit, the lawsuit stated.
“It doesn’t matter, because you weren’t born in this
country,” one of the agents said, according to the lawsuit.
Ramirez was fingerprinted, booked and taken to a detention
center in Tacoma where he was still in custody on Tuesday,
Rosenbaum said. (Additional reporting by Bill Rigby in Seattle)
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