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|3/14: Daniel Ramirez Medina: I’m a ‘dreamer,’ but immigration agents detained me anyway
Released 30 March 2017  By Carter Sherman - Washington Post
Perspective | Daniel Ramirez Medina: I’m a ‘dreamer,’ but immigration agents detained me anyway
Mar 14, 2017 from Brooklyn, NY
WHAT HAPPENS TO A DREAM DETAINED?
The first “Dreamer” arrested by ICE under Trump is stuck in legal limbo
By Carter Sherman on Mar 8, 2017
A Wednesday hearing for Daniel Ramirez Medina, the first Deferred Action
for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipient to be detained by Trump
administration immigration officials, yielded few answers for the 750,000
DACA recipients in the United States wondering what their future holds.
Scolding Department of Justice attorneys for filing a brief so late on
Tuesday night that he couldn’t review it that day, Judge James Donohue
Donohue declined to release Ramirez or to rule on one of the Seattle
case’s main issues, which is under whose jurisdiction the case should
fall. The Department of Justice would like to try the case in immigration
court; Ramirez’s lawyers say district court is the best place to deal with
the case’s constitutional consequences.
Like all DACA recipients, also known as DREAMers, Ramirez arrived in the
United States as an undocumented child and now has temporary permission to
legally live and work in the country. But in February, Immigration and
Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents encountered Ramirez during an unrelated
search for Ramirez’s father, described by ICE as “a prior-deported felon”
who has since been reportedly charged. During the search, one agent
allegedly stopped Ramirez and asked, “Are you here legally?” Though
Ramirez said he was, the agents took him into custody anyway.
Ramirez’s DACA protection was later revoked and he’s now technically in
the country illegally.
“We shouldn’t have to get down on our knees to get them to respect DACA
status,” Ramirez’s lawyer Mark Rosenbaum said in the Wednesday hearing.
Because the ICE agents arrested Ramirez without probable cause, he argued,
they had no right to take away his DACA protection. “The government’s only
answer is that DACA is written in invisible ink.”
At Ramirez’s original hearing on Feb. 17, Judge Donohue ruled that only an
immigration court could release Ramirez. Still, he said that because of
the case’s national importance, he wanted a bond hearing set in
immigration court within a week. But Ramirez’s lawyers never requested it,
and so the hearing was never held.
That’s because immigration courts oversee deportation proceedings, and
they say that’s not what’s this case is about. DACA recipients give the
government extensive information about themselves and undergo rigorous
background checks under the trust and belief that they are immune from
arrest or deportation due to their immigration status, Ramirez’s lawyers
argued in a motion filed Friday. They say Ramirez isn’t fighting a
deportation issue, but an unconstitutional arrest and detention.
“By arresting Mr. Ramirez, and then using the information he disclosed
against him, the government has broken those promises and engaged in an
unconstitutional bait-and-switch,” their motion reads. And immigration
courts just don’t have the ability to rule on the case’s constitutional
issues, Ramirez’s lawyers argue.
But in the Wednesday hearing, Department of Justice attorneys argued that
the administration isn’t using any new policies or procedures and stressed
that DACA isn’t a status, but a set of benefits that the Department of
Homeland Security can revoke at any time. If a person wishes to challenge
the loss of those benefits, they can go to appeals court, a process that
can take years. But they say Ramirez’s case is standard and belongs before
an immigration court.
Whether or not that’s true is a question that could affect thousands of
Though Ramirez was the first DACA recipient to be detained under the Trump
administration, he wasn’t the last. Shortly after Ramirez’s detention, ICE
took 19-year-oild DREAMer Jose Romero into custody in San Antonio,
according to the Guardian. Last week, 22-year-old Daniela Vergas was also
detained in Jackson, Miss., shortly after giving a press conference where
she spoke about her family’s arrival in the United States, CNN reported.
Though Vergas was in the process of renewing her DACA protection when she
was taken into custody, it lapsed in November, Vergas’ lawyers said.
Vergas couldn’t afford the nearly $500 renewal fee.
Regardless of how Ramirez’s case ultimately turns out, former American
Immigration Lawyers Association President David Leopold thinks that the
message to DACA recipients and undocumented immigrants is already clear.
“The signal’s already been sent by his arrest, by his prosecution for
deportation, by the arrest of the [Vergas] after she gave a speech,” he
said. “I think [the government is] creating panic. They’re creating fear
among the DREAMer community and among the larger community.”
“The good news is,” he added, “what’s going on is that immigrants are
sitting down and they’re learning their rights.”
Ramirez’s attorneys have until Friday to file a final brief, while Donohue
said he will make a decision on whether to release Ramirez early next
week. And in the meantime, his lawyers said, Ramirez will turn 24
ICE did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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