Immigrants and civil-rights attorneys have filed a petition in federal court in Seattle seeking the release of a 23-year-old Mexican immigrant brought illegally into the United States as a child but given a work permit under the Obama administration.

Share story

Immigrants and civil-rights attorneys have filed a petition in federal court in Seattle seeking the release of a 23-year-old Mexican immigrant brought illegally into the United States as a child but given a work permit under the Obama administration.

The petition challenges the immigration detention and seeks the release of Daniel Ramirez Medina, who his attorneys say was detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents Friday. The agents were conducting an action at his father’s house and Medina was detained, according to the news service Reuters and a news release by the attorneys in his case.

ICE countered in an email Tuesday night that Medina — whom they identify as “Mr. Ramirez” — was a “self-admitted gang member” encountered during the arrest of a felon who had previously been deported.

He is in custody at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma “to await the outcome of removal proceedings,” said ICE Northwest spokeswoman Rose Richeson.

More on travel ban

 

“ICE officers took Mr. Ramirez into custody based on his admitted gang affiliation and risk to public safety,” Richeson said.

ICE did not respond when asked whether Medina has a criminal history. His attorneys said the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees ICE, considered him to be “lawfully present and is legally authorized to work in the United States,” a status that would usually preclude a serious criminal history.

Medina’s attorney, Mark Rosenbaum, said his client “unequivocally denies being in a gang” and said “he was repeatedly pressured” by ICE to “falsely admit affiliation.” Richeson’s statement, he said, “is inaccurate.”

Lawyers allege that Medina is the first immigration action taken by the Trump administration against someone who has been allowed to stay in the country under the Obama administration’s 2012 “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” (DACA) program, which deferred deportation or other adverse immigration actions against individuals who entered the U.S. illegally as children.

The lawsuit alleges Medina has been in the United States since he was 7 years old.

Sen. Maria Cantwell said Tuesday that she is “looking into this troubling situation,” and U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal, blaming the Trump administration’s “deportation force,” demanded Medina’s immediate release.

“Trust in our government depends upon the executive branch keeping its word,” said Rosenbaum, director of the Public Counsel Law Center in Los Angeles. He accused the federal government of a “bait and switch,” by having people register for the DACA program and then trying to deport them.

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and Councilmember M. Lorena González in a news release reaffirmed Seattle’s place as a Sanctuary City in defiance of the Trump administration. They called for the immediate clarification of the status of Medina and whether the administration has changed its stance on the DACA recipients.

In the meantime, they reiterated that “no City of Seattle official will ever ask about your immigration status” and police will not help ICE detain or deport immigrants “who are doing nothing more than raising their families” and contributing to the city’s success.

But Murray warned that “ICE officials still have the power and jurisdiction to enter into the boundaries of Seattle and conduct their harmful actions without notifying the city,” and urged immigrants to review their rights on a Facebook workshop.

The lawsuit prompted a quick response by the court. U.S. Magistrate Judge James Donohue in Seattle late Tuesday issued an order requiring the government to respond to the petition by Thursday and set a hearing for Friday.

The judge ordered the government to reveal whether Medina is still detained and why, “given that he has been granted deferred action under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program?”

The judge is demanding immigration officials say whether he has been placed in “removal proceedings” to deport him as the result of ICE’s initial custody determination. If not, he asks the government to explain why he is still being held. Donohue also asks whether Medina has asked for or received a bond hearing.

The lawsuit alleges the government has violated Medina’s due-process rights, according to a joint news release by the Public Counsel Law Center, the Barrera Legal Group and the firm of Gibson Gunn & Crutcher, a firm with offices in Los Angeles.

It seeks his immediate release and an order barring ICE from any further actions.

The detention comes on the heels of controversial ICE immigration raids following the election of President Trump and his promise to deport illegal and criminal immigrants.

DACA was created by Obama and provided a reprieve from deportation for those who qualify along with renewable work permits. The lawsuit alleges Medina twice had his permit renewed before his detention. It’s estimated that as many as 750,000 young people — called Dreamers — have taken advantage of the program.