Daniel Ramirez Medina, a Seattle DACA recipient arrested and detained by ICE more than six weeks ago, was released yesterday:
Medina, 24, greeted his brother — also a participant in the program — in the lobby of the Federal Detention Center in Tacoma, surrounded by lockers and metal detectors.
"He's free to go," a guard told them, and after conferring with one of his lawyers, Ramirez stepped into the sunshine and hugged his brother again for a crowd of news cameras waiting just beyond the chain link-and-barbed wire fence.
Daniel was arrested during an ICE raid targeting his dad last month, despite the fact that Daniel has no criminal record and was thoroughly vetted by DHS in order to be enrolled in DACA, an Obama-era program protecting hundreds of young immigrants like Daniel from deportation. “This is outrageous,” immigrant rights leader Frank Sharry said at the time. “A young man is detained by ICE for what, being in the wrong place at the wrong time?”
In the weeks that followed, ICE attempted to criminalize Daniel by falsely claiming he had gang affiliations, with one of Daniel’s attorneys telling "Reuters that ICE agents ‘repeatedly pressured’ Ramirez ‘to falsely admit’ gang affiliation.” The attorney also claimed ICE officials doctored a document in a despicable attempt to frame him, which the attorney called “one of the most serious examples of governmental misconduct that I have come across in my 40 years of practice.”
Advocates have been relentless in their effort to free Daniel, arguing that his arrest, along with that of other Dreamers across the nation, proves that Donald Trump’s recent executive orders are a “full-speed-ahead order to agents to arrest and detain any and all undocumented immigrants they encounter,” despite his claim that his deportation force is targeting only dangerous criminals and “bad hombres” for deportation.
Daniel’s legal team—including Lawrence Tribe, professor of constitutional law at Harvard and former mentor to President Barack Obama, Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan, and former Supreme Court Justice nominee Merrick Garland—“pressed claims in federal court that the arrest and detention violated Ramirez's constitutional rights”:
They sought to keep the case out of immigration court, saying U.S. District Court was better suited to handle those claims.
A federal magistrate judge in Seattle agreed to hear the constitutional claims, but declined to release him in the meantime. U.S. District Judge Ricardo Martinez upheld the decision not to release him last week, saying he instead should challenge his detention in immigration court.
Martinez nevertheless said "many questions remain regarding the appropriateness of the government's conduct" in arresting him.
Among those questions, his lawyers have said, is whether U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents misinterpreted a tattoo on his forearm when they described it as a "gang tattoo" in an arrest report. The lawyers say the tattoo, which says "La Paz BCS," pays homage to the city of La Paz in the Mexican state of Baja California Sur, where he was born.
Finally, earlier this week, “Judge John Odell in Tacoma approved freeing the 24-year-old Ramirez on $15,000 bond until his next immigration court hearing.” While Daniel is now home, he’s not in the clear. His DACA status was revoked by the government following their accusation that he had gang affiliations, and Daniel continues to remain under the threat of deportation. Advocates will continue to be in his corner as he fights to stay in the country he calls his home. Daniel’s statement upon his release yesterday:
"I'm so happy to be reunited with my family today and can't wait to see my son," it said. "This has been a long and hard 46 days, but I'm so thankful for the support that I've gotten from everyone who helped me and for the opportunity to live in such an amazing country. I know that this isn't over, but I'm hopeful for the future, for me and for the hundreds of thousands of other Dreamers who love this country like I do."