Daniel Ramirez Medina, 23, was arrested last Friday in Seattle by ICE officers even though he is permitted to be here under the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. He is thought to be the first member of a protected class of undocumented immigrants known as "Dreamers" to be arrested under the Trump administration, the news website seattlepi.com said Wednesday.
Ramirez Medina, whose lawyers say has no criminal convictions, was taken into custody after a federal raid to deport his father, who Immigrations and Customs Enforcement officials say is a "prior-deported felon". Northwest Immigrants Rights Project Legal Director Matt Adams told The Associated Press that agents were at the home to arrest the man's father and that they took both men into custody.
Ethan Dettmer, a partner in the law firm Gibson Dunn & Crutcher, and one of the lawyers representing Ramirez, said that he was not aware of any other immigrant under the protection of DACA who had been arrested or detained earlier.
ICE spokeswoman Rose Richeson defended Ramirez's detention, telling NPR he is a "self-admitted gang member".
ICE said in a statement Ramirez is a "self-admitted gang member" arrested on February 10 "during an operation targeting a prior-deported felon".
But recent sweeps by U.S. immigration agents across multiple states have netted some immigrants with no criminal records, a departure from enforcement actions in the last decade.
Officials said they were looking for people who shouldn't be in the country, either because they have a criminal history or they have a deportation order signed by an immigration judge.
US immigration officers last week arrested more than 680 people in the country illegally. At that point, Ramirez's attorneys say, he was arrested and taken to an ICE field office south of Seattle.
Greisa Martinez, advocacy director of United We Dream and herself a DACA beneficiary, said Tuesday that Ramirez's detention is proof that Trump can't be trusted. (So far, Donald Trump has let DACA remain in place.) Ramirez renewed his DACA status in May for another two-year period, undergoing yet another background check. But despite his reassurances, activists and attorneys have expressed concern that he would roll back the DACA program and potentially use information from it to deport the almost 750,000 young people who have enrolled since Obama created it in 2012.
Ramirez is one of 750,000 DACA holders in the country. He most recently stated in December, "We're going to work something out that's going to make people happy and proud".
In response, Sen. Durbin issued a statement saying, "We do not know the details of this arrest but absent credible evidence of crime, DACA protects those who are enrolled from deportation".
"I do have a big heart", he said. "We're going to have a very strong border", Trump said.
An ICE public information officer was not immediately available for comment.
A hearing in the case is due on 17 February.