U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is stopping to new lows in order to increase deportations — including accusing a Dreamer of being affiliated a gang.
Dreamers are undocumented immigrants who have applied for protected status under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program — which has strict criteria for inclusion like a clean criminal record, gainful employment, current enrollment in school, and/or military service. Last year, President Trump reversed the executive order put in place by former President Barack Obama that created DACA, telling Congress that they would have to pass a bill to codify DACA into law. Congress is currently just a handful of Republican signatures away from passing a DACA bill.
Daniel Ramirez Medina, a Dreamer living in the U.S. under DACA status, was arrested by ICE in 2017, who claimed that his renewed status as a Dreamer didn’t matter because he wasn’t “born in this country.” The government then removed Ramirez’s DACA protections without giving Ramirez an opportunity to contest the decision, and scheduled him for deportation. Ramirez sued in federal court to have his status reinstated, arguing that ICE violated his constitutional rights.
This week, Ricardo S. Martinez, the George W. Bush-appointed U.S. District Court Judge for the Western District of Washington, sided with Ramirez, saying that not only was he denied his due process rights, but that ICE had blatantly lied about his supposed affiliation with MS-13 in order to streamline his deportation. According to Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern, ICE erased written statements Ramirez made in pencil asserting that he had moved from Southern California to Washington state in order to flee gang violence to make it seem as if he were affiliated with gangs:
The government said it included the line, “I have gang affiliation with gangs so I wear an orange uniform.” But on Thursday, the Stranger published a photograph of the appeal—and it clearly shows that Ramirez had written in pencil: “I came in and the officers said I have gang affiliation with gangs so I wear an orange uniform. I do not have a criminal history and I’m not affiliated with any gangs.”
Judge Martinez immediately reinstated Ramirez’s DACA status, allowing him to live and work in the United States without federal government interference. Even though Ramirez was able to stay in the U.S., the Trump administration was still successful in deporting another Dreamer, 23-year-old Juan Manuel Montes, last year.
Logan Espinoza is a freelance contributor specializing in economic issues. He lives in Phoenix, Arizona with his wife and daughter. Contact him at logan DOT espinoza AT yahoo DOT com.