Moral Low Ground


ICE Arrests Mexican ‘Dreamer’ with No Criminal Record, 15 Years in US

DACA-protected undocumented immigrant Daniel Ramirez Medina has been living in the United States for more than 15 years.

Federal immigration officials arrested an undocumented immigrant who was brought into the United States from Mexico when he was a child and who enjoyed protection under the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

CNN reports 23-year-old Daniel Ramirez Medina of Seattle, Washington was taken into custody in Tacoma on Friday by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents attempting to execute an arrest warrant for his father at his home. Ramirez’s arrest is believed to be the first in the nation of a so-called “Dreamer,” one of the more than 750,000 people who entered the country illegally as children and who qualified for the Obama-era deferment program.

The agents asked Ramirez if he was in the United States legally and he said he was. His parents brought him into the country illegally in 2001, when he was seven years old, according to a lawsuit filed in a federal court in Washington state. Under DACA, Ramirez was authorized by the Obama administration in 2014 to live and work in the US His DACA card was renewed in 2016. He has a three-year-old son who is an American citizen.

In order to qualify for protection under DACA, which deferred deportation for a certain period of time, applicants must have been brought into the country as children and and must pay a fee, submit to a background check and provide the government with personal information it could use to track and arrest them in the future.

Ramirez informed ICE agents of his DACA status, however a court document states an agent replied, “It doesn’t matter, because you weren’t born in this country.” This treatment apparently contradicts a statement made last month by President Donald Trump, who told ABC News his administration was drafting policy on how to deal with DACA-protected immigrants. “They shouldn’t be very worried,” Trump said of the “Dreamers.” “I do have a big heart. We’re going to take care of everybody.”

The government claims Ramirez was arrested “based on his admitted gang affiliation and risk to public safety.” However, Mark Rosenbaum, one of Ramirez’s lawyers, told the Associated Press his client “unequivocally denies being in a gang” and that he may have been coerced into lying about such associations. “While in custody, he was repeatedly pressured by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents to falsely admit affiliation,” Rosenbaum said.

KIRO reports Ramirez’s only court record in Washington is for a 2016 speeding violation for driving five miles per hour (8 km/h) over the speed limit in Thurston County.

The lawsuit filed by Ramirez seeks his immediate release and an injunction protecting him from future arrests. The Guardian reports a hearing has been scheduled for Friday.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) demanded ICE immediately release Ramirez and said Trump “is tearing apart families and striking fear into immigrant communities.” Jayapal said Trump should order Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly to “right this wrong – instead of putting his stamp of approval on deporting innocent young people who were brought here through no fault of their own, followed all the laws in signing up for DACA, and have not lived in the country they are being sent back to.”

Ramirez’s arrest fueled fears through immigrant communities across the nation that a new era of more severe immigration enforcement has begun. President Trump, who launched his presidential campaign by calling Mexicans “rapists” and who has promised to build a wall along the US-Mexican border and to immediately deport millions of undocumented immigrants, has already signed executive orders targeting sanctuary cities and ordering construction of the southern border wall to begin.

Immigration enforcement officials arrested around 700 undocumented immigrants over the weekend in raids across the nation, including in sanctuary cities. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said the arrests were routine, and defenders of the action noted the record number of people deported during President Barack Obama’s tenure. However, critics claim lower-priority undocumented immigrants who enjoyed considerable protection during the Obama administration are now being targeted, pointing to Ramirez’s arrest as evidence of how the situation has become more precarious for people living illegally in the United States.

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