A Mexican immigrant is suing the US government after being arrested, even though he has special status protecting him from deportation.
Daniel Ramirez, who has no criminal record, was arrested in his father’s home in Seattle on Friday. His lawyers say the arrest violates his constitutional rights to live and work in the US without the fear of arrest and deportation.
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Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents (ICE) arrived at the home to arrest Ramirez’s father, but also took him into custody, even though he has a work permit under Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) programme, court documents said.
The DACA programme was established in 2012 to protect children, who were brought into the US without documents, from deportation. It allows recipients, sometimes called “the dreamers”, to attend school and work.
Ramirez’s lawyers say this could be the first time under US President Donald Trump that a person covered by DACA has been taken into immigration custody.
ICE spokeswoman Rose Richeson said in a statement that Ramirez, 23, had told agents he was a gang member and was taken into custody for being a “risk to public safety”.
In response, one of Ramirez’s lawyers said that his client “unequivocally denies being in a gang”.
“While in custody, he was repeatedly pressured by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents to falsely admit affiliation,” Mark Rosenbaum said.
Trump, a Republican who took office on January 20, has promised a crackdown on the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the US, most of whom come from Mexico and other Latin American countries.
US immigration authorities arrested at least 680 people across the country last week, and 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 that his administration was devising a policy on how to deal with people covered by DACA, without indicating any concrete plans.
“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.
Rallies were planned in response to Ramirez’s detainment by grassroots movements, such as United We Dream and One America, asking for his immediate release.