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<span class="articleLocation”>U.S. officials have initiated deportation
proceedings against a Mexican immigrant with a work permit who
was arrested near Seattle last week because of alleged gang
ties, according to a court filing from the Justice Department on
Daniel Ramirez Medina, 23, was taken into custody 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 administration of former President Barack Obama.
Ramirez’s lawyers have denied he was a member of a gang, and
his lawsuit said he has no criminal record.
On Monday, U.S. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said
immigration officers last week arrested more than 680 people in
the country illegally. The broad enforcement action alarmed
immigrant rights groups.
The Justice Department’s Thursday filing said ICE officers
questioned Ramirez about a “gang tattoo” on his forearm. Ramirez
responded that he “used to hang out with the Sureno’s in
California,” but “fled California to escape from the gangs,”
according to the government brief.
Ramirez then told officials that he “still hangs out with
the Paizas in Washington State,” government lawyers said in
their court filing.
Ramirez’s lawyers could not immediately be reached for
comment about those allegations.
The brief asserted that a Seattle federal judge has no legal
basis to consider Ramirez’s lawsuit because ICE has initiated
deportation proceedings to be adjudicated in a separate
Ramirez has asked the judge to order his release
immediately. A hearing in the case is scheduled for Friday.
Ramirez’s lawyers have said this could be the first time
under U.S. President Donald Trump that a person covered by a
policy known as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals
(DACA) has been taken into immigration custody.
DACA, established by Obama in 2012, allows those brought to
the country while young, sometimes referred to as “dreamers”, to
attend school and work. The program protects from deportation
some 750,000 people who were brought to the United States
illegally as children.
In a statement on Wednesday, the Department of Homeland
Security said that since 2012, when Obama was president, about
1,500 DACA recipients have had their permits terminated due to a
criminal conviction or gang affiliation.
Under Obama administration guidance from 2014, gang activity
would make someone a deportation priority only if the person had
been convicted of an offense in connection with the gang,
although immigration officials were given room for discretion.
Reuters could not determine whether gang members who had not
committed crimes were deported during Obama’s tenure. (Additional reporting by Bill Rigby in Seattle)
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