As state after state lodges various complaints to block President Trump's immigration executive order, it appears he is following through on campaign promises in other ways. What seems to be the first detention of a so-called DREAMer, a 23-year-old illegal Mexican immigrant has been arrested in Seattle by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers.
President Trump has promised to crackdown on the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States, most of whom come from Mexico and other Latin American countries. While Trump campaigned on a promise to roll back Obama's executive actions on immigration, since assuming office he has kept his public comments on DACA vague. But now, as Reuters reports, U.S. authorities have arrested an immigrant from Mexico who was brought to the United States illegally as a child and later given a work permit during the Obama administration in what could be the first detention of its kind under President Trump.
Daniel Ramirez Medina, a 23-year-old with no criminal record, was taken into custody last week at his father's home in Seattle by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers. The officers arrived at the home to arrest the man's father, though court documents did no make clear the reason the father was taken into custody.
Ramirez, now in custody in Tacoma, Washington, was granted temporary permission to live and work legally in the United States under a program called the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, established in 2012 by Democratic President Obama, according to a court filing.
The program protects from deportation 750,000 people who were brought to the United States illegally as children, sometimes called the "dreamers," and gives them the temporary right to work legally in the United States.
Ramirez filed a challenge to his detention in Seattle federal court on Monday, arguing that the government violated his constitutional rights because he had work authorization under the DACA program.
Ethan Dettmer, a partner in the law firm Gibson Dunn & Crutcher who is one of the lawyers representing Ramirez, said he is not aware of any other DACA recipient who has been arrested.
"We are hoping this detention was a mistake," Dettmer said.
ICE agents took Ramirez to a processing center in Seattle and he again disclosed his DACA work permit, the lawsuit stated.
"It doesn't matter, because you weren't born in this country," one of the agents said, according to the lawsuit.
Ramirez was fingerprinted, booked and taken to a detention center in Tacoma where he was still in custody on Tuesday, Rosenbaum said.
A move against DACA recipients like Ramirez would represent a significant broadening of immigration enforcement under Trump. In an interview with ABC News last month, Trump said his administration was devising a policy on how to deal with people covered by DACA. "They are here illegally. They shouldn't be very worried. I do have a big heart. We're going to take care of everybody. We're going to have a very strong border," Trump said at the time.
Another one of Ramirez' lawyers, Mark Rosenbaum of the legal advocacy group Public Counsel, characterized the DACA program as a promise from the federal government's executive branch that DACA recipients would not be targeted for deportation.
"We have no reason to believe that promise will be broken. This case should not see the inside of a courtroom," Rosenbaum said.
Ramirez was in custody and unavailable for comment. Representatives for Immigration and Customs Enforcement declined immediate comment on the lawsuit.
U.S. immigration officers last week arrested more than 680 people in the country illegally. Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said the operations, conducted in at least a dozen states, were routine and consistent with regular operations. But immigrant advocacy groups and Democrats have expressed concern that the Trump administration will escalate immigration enforcement efforts in line with the president's tough stance toward illegal immigrants.