Washington Watch

Posted on: May 29th, 2018
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ICE Accused by Federal Judge of Fabricating Evidence Indicating DREAMER’s Gang Affiliation Which Resulted in Deportation

On May 15, U.S. District Court Judge Ricardo S. Martinez denied efforts made by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to remove a DACA recipient of his status. Daniel Ramirez Medina, who was detained in February 2017 and subsequently accused of gang affiliation which justified deportation, filed a lawsuit alleging a violation of his right to due process.

In February 2017, ICE agents, following orders from the Trump administration calling on immigration officers to increase efforts in arresting and deporting individuals, went to the house of Ramirez’s father in Seattle. Though the agents went to the Seattle home to arrest Ramirez’s father, who was undocumented and illegally brought Ramirez as a child to the United States, they came into contact with Ramirez and questioned him about his legal status. He, as a DACA recipient, truthfully answered that he was legally present, but nevertheless ICE agents detained him and took him to a processing center. Once there, he stated that he had a work permit, to which ICE agents replied, “It doesn’t matter, because you weren’t born in this country.” Agents subsequently fingerprinted, booked, and confiscated Ramirez’s work permit before transferring him to a detention center and initiating removal proceedings. Furthermore, the agents tried to remove his DACA status, which would have all but assured his deportation and alleged Ramirez’s gang affiliation as a “egregious public safety concern” which would terminate his DACA benefits indiscriminately without the possibility to contest this decision.

A group of attorneys then came to the defense of Ramirez, asserting the illegitimacy of almost every action taken against him. Evidentiary of this assertion, the attorneys cited Ramirez’s statement which had been written in pencil and included numerous erased parts, the omission of which indicated his confession to gang affiliation. In actuality, the attorneys pointed to five instances where Ramirez was asked about his gang membership, each time he responded no and actually claiming the motivation for him moving to Washington state from California was to “escape from the gangs.” His attorneys also pointed out that if Ramirez had in fact had any gang affiliation, it would have disqualified him from the DACA program of which he was a beneficiary, as he had to undergo two thorough background checks in order to have his status renewed. Perhaps the most important piece of evidence against Ramirez, the tattoo which according to an ICE agent was evidence that he was “definitely a gang member” was also addressed by his attorneys. Gang experts were consulted to analyze the tattoo, and all concluded that the tattoo was not indicative of gang involvement. One such expert testified that he would not, “attribute this tattoo to have any gang-related meaning,” while another explicitly stated that, “this tattoo does not show any gang affiliation.” In conclusion, Martinez agreed that ICE deprived Ramirez of, “his constitutionally protected liberty and property interests without due process of law.”

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