A young immigrant protected from deportation under an executive order issued by President Barack Obama because he’d been brought into the country as a child faces deportation following sweeping raids launched by the Trump administration.
Daniel Ramirez Medina, a 23-year-old with no criminal record, was taken into custody in Seattle as part of last week’s raids that led to the arrest of 680 people, 75 percent of whom, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said Monday, had been convicted of a crime.
Ramirez was picked up by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers who’d arrived at his home looking for his father, who came to this country from Mexico, according to advocates.
McClatchy first reported that young people who’d received protection under Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program were likely to be apprehended as part of anticipated Trump administration enforcement actions. The DACA program protects an estimated 750,000 immigrants brought here illegally as children from deportation and also provides them work permits.
“It was inevitable given the extremely broad enforcement guidance given to ICE agents that someone with DACA would be apprehended,” said Leon Fresco, who headed the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Immigration Litigation. “I do not blame the officers, they are doing what the guidance is telling them to do.”
The Department of Homeland Security said Ramirez, who it described as a gang member, was arrested during an operation targeting a “prior-deported felon.” Immigration officials said he was taken into custody based “on his admitted gang affiliation and risk to public safety.”
Having gang ties is has always has been grounds for dismissal from the DACA program, including during the Obama administration.
It was inevitable given the extremely broad enforcement guidance given to ICE agents that someone with DACA would be apprehended
Leon Fresco, former Obama official
Fresco, a former deputy assistant attorney general for the department’s civil division, had predicted that formerly protected people would be arrested after Trump signed an executive order giving the government wide leeway to deport anyone officials thought had “committed acts that constitute a chargeable criminal offense.”
“We cannot faithfully execute the immigration laws of the United States if we exempt classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement,” the order states.
Trump and Republican leaders in Congress have said they are working on a plan that will address the so-called Dreamers, many of whom have grown up in the United States and know no other country.
But feelings remain tense among DACA recipients who remember Trump’s words from the campaign when he vowed to reverse or at least stop renewing deferred action applications. At one point during the campaign, Trump said that “they have to go.”
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.
“Donald Trump’s executive orders have made everyone a priority for deportation,” Martinez said. “Under Trump’s America, no one is safe.”
Fresco said the executive order guidance was simply too broad.
“It is important that ICE focus like a laser on the targets of its enforcement actions rather than cast a larger enforcement net during its operations,” Fresco said. “Otherwise, there will be so much ill will toward these actions that the costs will outweigh the public benefits to safety that happen when only legitimate criminals are removed.”