A Seattle federal judge could make a decision early next week in the case of a local “dreamer” who remains detained at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma.
Daniel Ramirez Medina, a recipient of the deferred action program started under President Barack Obama, known as “DACA,” was taken into custody nearly a month ago, during an operation targeting his father, a previously deported felon, according to ICE.
Ramirez’s attorneys argue his arrest raises constitutional questions of due process, and they believe the case could have implications for DACA recipients nationwide.
“If we prevail, if Daniel is released early next week, I think it will be very good for the country,” said Theodore Boutrous, one of Ramirez’s multiple attorneys. “It will be a signal, it will be a strong message that the courts are going to protect DACA recipients...that they’re going to be treated fairly.”
The Department of Justice, meanwhile, has alleged that Ramirez admitted to gang affiliation during questioning. In court documents, officers also noted a “gang tattoo,” on Ramirez’s forearm.
Attorneys from Ramirez deny any gang affiliation and argue the tattoo represents his birthplace. They also allege Ramirez was pressured into making statements about gangs.
They also note, as part of the DACA approval process, Ramirez had to undergo an extensive background check and had no criminal history.
Related: Background on details of the case
His attorneys argue Ramirez, who will turn 24 on Thursday, is being unlawfully detained and want the “habeas” case heard in federal court.
The Department of Justice, meanwhile, argues the case should be heard in immigration court. An appeal of the case would ultimately go to the Board of Immigration Appeals and the Federal Court of Appeals, according to the DOJ.
Additionally, in the government’s view, Ramirez lost his DACA status upon arrest.
“A decision to grant deferred action may be revoked by DHS at any time, particularly in the case of someone who commits a crime or is otherwise found to pose a national security of public safety threat,” said a DHS spokesperson when asked what due process rights are afforded to DACA recipients.
“Aliens granted deferred action from deportation are not protected by any kind of legal status, but are typically given a lower level of enforcement priority,” said the statement.
“We think the due process clause of the constitution says you can’t do that to people—especially when government has given them that lawful presence in the United States,” counted Ramirez attorney Theodore Boutrous.
In addition to release, his legal team is also seeking “declaratory relief,” to provide clarity on the due process rights of DACA recipients.
“We’re saying to a federal judge: issue a statement that DACA provides certain protections for your liberties. That becomes a statement of a federal court and what the executive has to pay attention, so we don’t have to count on the good will of ICE agents,” said attorney Mark Rosenbaum.
U.S. Magistrate Judge James Donohue said he could rule in the case by early next week. He must decide whether his court has jurisdiction to hear the numerous issues posed by the case.
Because of a new argument added into a filing by the Department of Justice on Tuesday, less than 24 hours before the hearing, Donohue postponed a possible decision this week.
“I’m less than pleased that the government filed a new argument on the issue of standing,” he said while opening Wednesday’s two hour hearing.
Donohue then asked a series of questions directed to both sides that will help guide his decision expected next week.
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