A man detained by immigration authorities in Seattle despite his protected status under an Obama administration program sued the government Wednesday for violation of his constitutional rights.
Daniel Ramirez Medina, a recipient of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, was detained Tuesday by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials when they showed up at his house to arrest Ramirez's father.
The complaint alleges that agents violated Ramirez's Fifth Amendment due process rights by failing to adhere to the terms of DACA.
ICE agents were allowed into the home by Ramirez's father to notify Ramirez and his brother of the arrest, according to a complaint filed by lawyers.
ICE agents then asked whether Ramirez was legally in the country, to which he replied, “Yes, I have a work permit,” before declining to answer any further questions.
Ramirez has protected status under DACA, which he initially received in 2014 and renewed in 2016, reported NPR.
Democrats say Medina’s detention raises questions about whether ICE’s deportation efforts are legal.
“Medina was arrested even after identifying himself as a legal U.S. resident, and was reportedly pressured to confess to unfounded accusations by ICE agents. If President TrumpDonald TrumpOhio Republican who voted to impeach Trump says he won't seek reelection Youngkin breaks with Trump on whether Democrats will cheat in the Virginia governor's race Trump endorses challenger in Michigan AG race MORE truly believes in the rule of law, upholding our country’s 4th Amendment rights would be a good place to start,” Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.) said in a statement.
President Trump has not overturned the executive order signed by former President ObamaBarack Hussein Obama Obama backs Trudeau in Canadian election Former Sen. Heller to run for Nevada governor Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by Climate Power — Senate Democrats ding Biden energy proposal MORE that created DACA, essentially leaving the program in the books.
ICE spokeswoman Rose Richeson defended Ramirez's detention, telling NPR he is a “self-admitted gang member.”
But Rep. Tony Cárdenas (D-Calif.), in a statement Wednesday, said that false accusations of gang membership are “a reality for many Latino men.”
“Right after I graduated college something happened to me that has happened to many other Latino men but few other Members of Congress,” he said.
“My brother and I were pulled over by the police in broad daylight. Suddenly there were five police cars surrounding us. My car was turned inside out without reason. I was questioned belligerently by the police. And we were asked, ‘what gang are you a member of?’ I remember it like it was yesterday,” he said.
Ramirez passed background checks when he initially applied for DACA in 2014 and when he renewed his permit in 2016.
Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), who represents parts of Seattle, said she's spent much of the last 24 hours on the phone with Ramirez's lawyers, who are confused about the charges.
“This was somebody who had DACA status, legal status, and presented those papers, and now is being accused of being a criminal … a self-admitted gang member. We don't know what that means, but his attorneys say he has never admitted to any such thing. And we've actually seen this in other ICE cases around the country,” Jayapal told reporters Wednesday in the Capitol.
Trump vowed to prioritize the deportation of foreigners with criminal records, and his executive actions on immigration greatly expanded the definition of criminality, broadening the number of people who can be targeted as deportation priorities.
To qualify for DACA, recipients provided the federal government with extensive personal information, as well as an admission of having entered the country illegally, albeit not of their own volition.
Immigration activists have consistently expressed concern that this database could be used as a target list by the Trump administration.
“Dreamers like Daniel are young people who grew up in this country and represent the striving and ambition at the heart of the American dream. They came out of the shadows, gave their information to the government, and went through background checks, all believing that they would be protected from deportation. Targeting Dreamers is a betrayal of that trust and it is a betrayal of who we are as a country,” said Rep. Norma Torres (D-Calif.).
Ramirez's detention received strong reactions from immigration advocates, especially in the wake of increased immigration raids over the past week and the deportation of Arizona resident Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos, who was apprehended as she voluntarily complied with a yearly inspection at her local ICE headquarters.
“If not quickly reversed, ICE’s arrest of a young immigrant who was granted deferred action could make a travesty of the federal government’s promises to DACA grantees across the country, who came to the U.S. as children and are an integral part of our communities,” said Omar Jadwat, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Immigrants’ Rights Project.
Under DACA, foreign citizens brought to the country illegally as minors were protected from deportation and given a work permit, valid for two years after each renewal.
The nearly 750,000 recipients of the program, known as Dreamers after the failed Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, have been at the center of the immigration debate.
A bipartisan group of legislators reintroduced in January the Bar Removal of Individuals who Dream and Grow our Economy (BRIDGE) Act, designed to put DACA formally into law. Under BRIDGE, the temporary relief afforded to dreamers by DACA would be formally protected by law.