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SEATTLE A federal judge in Seattle on Friday
ruled that a Mexican immigrant with a work permit who is being
held by immigration officials must be allowed to argue for his
release from U.S. custody while court proceedings over his
arrest move forward.
Daniel Ramirez Medina, 23, who received permission to work
in the United States under President Barack Obama’s Deferred
Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, was arrested last
week at his father’s home near Seattle by Immigration and
Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers, according to a lawsuit he
filed challenging his detention. The lawsuit said he was brought
to the United States illegally as a child and given a work
permit during the Obama administration.
ICE has alleged that Ramirez has gang ties and should be
deported, but Ramirez’s lawyers have filed court papers denying
that he has any gang involvement or criminal record and saying
he should not have been targeted for removal.
Ramirez’s lawyers have said this could be the first time
under U.S. President Donald Trump that a person covered by DACA
has been taken into immigration custody.
At a hearing in federal court in Seattle on Friday, U.S.
Magistrate Judge James Donohue declined to immediately release
Ramirez, but told lawyers for the Justice Department that
Ramirez should receive a prompt bail hearing before an
administrative immigration court.
“I’m not going to tell the immigration judge how to conduct
his or her hearing, just that it must happen by one week from
today,” Donohue said.
Donohue also asked both sides to file briefs on whether
Donohue has ultimate authority to hear Ramirez’s legal
challenge. The Justice Department argues the entire case should
be heard in immigration court.
“I recognize the unusual nature of this case, and I
recognize that there are many people who are in similar
situations,” Donohue said, adding: “But the court has to make
sure that it has jurisdiction.”
DACA, established by Obama in 2012, allows those brought to
the country while young to attend school and work. The program
protects from deportation some 750,000 people who were brought
to the United States illegally as children and are sometimes
called “dreamers,” in reference to the Development, Relief and
Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) legislation that failed to
At a news conference on Thursday, Trump promised that his
administration would “deal with DACA with heart.” He said the
issue was a tough one because, while a majority of those
benefiting from the program are “absolutely incredible kids,”
others are “gang members, and they’re drug dealers, too.”
Dr. Roberto Dondisch, Mexico’s consul in Seattle, attended
Ramirez’s hearing on Friday and said the Mexican government has
been following the case to ensure Ramirez’s due process rights
Dondisch said he was happy to hear Trump’s words on DACA,
and that his government has not seen a dramatic increase in
enforcement targeted toward DACA recipients.
“The DACA program has proved to be a very important program
for a lot of amazing kids,” Dondisch said.
About 150 protesters assembled outside the Seattle federal
courthouse on Friday in support of Ramirez, who did not appear
in the courtroom.
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