Members of Washington’s congressional delegation are looking into the arrest of a Seattle area “Dreamer,” an immigration status authorized under the Obama administration.
Daniel Ramirez Medina, 23, was taken into custody this week at a home in Des Moines, during an operation targeting his father, described as ‘prior-deported felon,’ according to an ICE spokeswoman.
ICE has not provided many details surrounding the circumstances of Ramirez Medina’s arrest, but issued a statement calling him “a self-admitted gang-member.” Agents confirm he was a recipient of DACA, or “deferred action for childhood arrivals,” a program implemented in 2012.
In a new court brief filed Thursday, the Department of Justice says Ramirez Medina was asked about his involvement in gang activity during an interview with an ICE officer.
"Petitioner stated 'no, not no more,'" according to the court document.
"Petitioner was then questioned further regarding a “gang tattoo” on his forearm, to which he responded that he “used to hang out with the Sureno’s in California,” that he “fled California to escape from the gangs,” and that he “still hangs out with the Paizas in Washington State.” Id. ICE then determined Petitioner “to have entered the United States without inspection, at an unknown location on an unknown date. In doing so, he is in violation of section 212(a)(6)(A)(i) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, as amended," the brief continues.
Read full brief here government's brief on Medina.
A court hearing is scheduled for Friday morning at the Federal Courthouse in downtown Seattle.
What I want to know is what are the grounds under which Daniel was detained and what are the processes that ICE is now using,” Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal (D-7th District) said Wednesday.
“The thing about this case is Daniel has been approved for DACA status twice, so he has applied and been approved, gone through all the checks and been approved twice,” Jayapal continued.
An ICE spokesperson says, while it’s not common, DACA recipients have been arrested in the past for criminal convictions or gang affiliation.
Meanwhile, ICE agents have not yet revealed what evidence they have supporting allegations of gang ties in the Seattle case. Attorneys for Ramirez Medina have said he “unequivocally” denies being in a gang and was pressured into falsely admitting affiliation.
The Department of Justice has a deadline of Thursday morning to file a response to Ramirez Medina’s complaint challenging his detention. A hearing in federal court is scheduled for Friday morning.
This Seattle arrest follows a series of immigration raids nationwide, sparking new concerns over whether enforcement actions have changed under the Trump administration.
“There are people are terrified across the city, across the state, across the country,” said Rep. Jayapal.
“Really, we’re trying to find out not only about this case, but we’re also trying to understand what ICE is doing, what their limits and boundaries are.”
A spokesperson with ICE said recent activity is consistent with past immigration operations that took place prior to the Trump administration.
More than 680 individuals were arrested in operations last week. Anywhere from 2,000 to 3,100 individuals were arrested as part of past operations under the Obama administration, according to an ICE western regional communications director.
However, lawmakers want to know whether ICE procedures have changed since President Trump signed the Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Executive Order.
“What I’m concerned about, though, is that clearly and the ICE agent told me this…even though the law hasn’t changed, and these were his words, 'the law hasn’t changed, but our priorities have,'” said Congresswoman Jayapal. “I don’t know what those priorities are because if you look at the executive order, the executive order really casts an incredibly wide swath.”
The new Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly issued a statement earlier this week addressing the recent operations and department’s mission.
“President Trump has been clear in affirming the critical mission of DHS in protecting the nation and directed our Department to focus on removing illegal aliens who have violated our immigration laws, with a specific focus on those who pose a threat to public safety, have been charged with criminal offenses, have committed immigration violations or have been deported and re-entered the country illegally,” Kelly wrote in part.