US authorities detain legal immigrant in Seattle | News | DW | 15.02.2017
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US authorities detain legal immigrant in Seattle

A Mexican man protected from deportation has been detained in his Seattle home. Daniel Ramirez arrived in the US illegally as a child but had obtained a work permit under Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

Daniel Ramirez Medina, a Mexican immigrant living and working legally in the US, was taken into custody last week after Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents swept his father's Seattle home.

Ramirez arrived in the US illegally as a seven-year-old in 2001 but was granted a work permit and protected from deportation under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The program was introduced by the Obama administration in 2012 and protects some 750,000 people who were brought to the US illegally as children, sometimes referred to as "DREAMers" as many of the individuals were also eligible for conditional residency under the DREAM Act legislation. 

Ramirez is being held in Tacoma, Washington. He filed a legal challenge in Seattle federal court on Monday, accusing the government of violating his constitutional rights.

According to Matt Adams, legal director for Northwest Immigrants Rights Project, Ramirez was likely apprehended by mistake. Adams added that the 23-year-old Mexican was the first person with DACA status he knows of being detained, remarks were echoed by one of Ramirez's lawyers, Ethan Dettmer.

Ramirez was taken into custody after ICE officials arrived at the family's Seattle home to arrest his father. According to the lawsuit, agents arrived at the premises and asked Ramirez if he was in the country legally. After answering that that he had a DACA work permit, Ramirez was then allegedly brought to a processing center in Seattle before being booked and taken to a detention center in Tacoma.

His father was also arrested, although the lawsuit does not make clear why.

According to the complaint, one of the agents told Ramirez upon arresting him: "It doesn't matter, because you weren't born in this country."

A spokesman for the US attorney's office in Seattle said it was still reviewing the case.

Trump's crackdown on illegal immigration

During last year's presidential election, then Republican candidate Donald Trump campaigned on the promise of coming down hard on illegal immigrants entering the US, namely from Mexico, and rolling back the Obama administration's executive actions on immigration.

While he hasn't explicitly outlined a policy concerning people covered by DACA, Trump told ABC News last month that his administration was devising a policy.

Last week, US authorities arrested almost 700 people across at least a dozen states living in the US illegally.

Officials have called the arrests "routine" and consistent with previous operations. However, immigration advocates and families fear that the recent sweeps amount to unprecedented and unclear immigration policies from the young administration.

A move against DACA recipients would mark another major broadening of the President's immigration enforcement. 

dm/kl (Reuters, AP)

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