Release denied for 'dreamer' detained by immigration agents; protesters gather
SEATTLE (AP) — A federal magistrate on Friday declined to release a man arrested by immigration agents last week despite his participation in a federal program to protect those brought to the U.S. illegally.
Magistrate Judge James P. Donohue said in U.S. District Court in Seattle that Daniel Ramirez Medina must request a bond a hearing from a federal immigration judge and should get one within a week.
Ramirez's arrest last week thrust him into a national debate over the immigration priorities of President Donald Trump.
Some saw the detention as the opening salvo in an attack on former President Barack Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, while federal authorities suggested it was simply a routine exercise of their authority.
Lawyers for Ramirez had asked the federal court for his immediate release, and dozens of people demonstrated in his support outside the courthouse.
"It worries me that our current president is creating worry in our community," said Antonio Amaya, who brought his two young children to the rally. "I brought my kids here because it's important to teach my kids that the struggle needs to continue."
In documents filed Thursday, the U.S. Justice Department said there was "no legal basis for a district court to consider any challenge" to the detention of Daniel Ramirez Medina, 23, in part because his case is pending in immigration court.
Court documents filed by the government said Ramirez admitted to having gang ties when questioned by an immigration agent. His lawyers called the allegation false.
"Mr. Ramirez did not say these things because they are not true," Ramirez's attorney Mark Rosenbaum said in statement.
The court documents also said Ramirez had a "gang tattoo" on his forearm, but Rosenbaum said the agents misidentified it. He said it reads "La Paz BCS." La Paz means "Peace" in Spanish and is also the capital of the Mexican state of Baja California Sur, where Ramirez was born, he said.
Ramirez is father of a 3-year-old son who is a U.S. citizen, his lawyers have said. He worked on farms picking fruit in California before moving to Washington, and he twice passed background checks to participate in the DACA program— most recently last spring, they said.
Immigration agents found him earlier this month when they went to an apartment complex in the Seattle suburb of Des Moines to arrest his father, identified as Antonio Ramirez-Polendo. Ramirez-Polendo was deported eight times between 2000 and 2006, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said Thursday, and served a year in prison in Washington state for felony drug trafficking.
The DACA program — referred to as "Dreamers" by supporters and derided as "illegal amnesty" by critics — has protected about 750,000 immigrants since its inception in 2012. It allows young people who were brought into the country illegally as children to stay and obtain work permits.
The Department of Homeland Security said in a statement Ramirez was being held at a detention center in Tacoma pending deportation proceedings.
About 1,500 immigrants granted DACA status since 2012 have had it revoked have had it revoked because of criminal convictions or gang affiliations.