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Immigrant with DACA or 'dreamer' status detained in Tacoma

Northwest Detention Center, Tacoma, Washington.
KUOW Photo/Liz Jones
Northwest Detention Center, Tacoma, Washington.

An immigrant in Seattle with temporary legal status through the DACA or “dreamer” program is currently being held at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma. It’s believed to be the first immigration arrest of its kind under the Trump administration.


Attorneys say 23-year-old Daniel Ramirez Medina was asleep when immigration agents came to his home in Seattle. They were looking for his father, who has an order to be deported from the country.

Adams: “But they didn’t just leave it at that.”

This is Matt Adams, one of Ramirez’ attorneys.

Adams: “For some reason they went ahead and arrested Daniel as well, even though he told them, ‘Hey I have status. Look here’s my work permit.’"

Adams, with the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project in Seattle, thinks his client was apprehended by mistake.

But Rose Richeson, a spokeswoman with Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Seattle, said they arrested Ramirez because of his “admitted gang affiliation and risk to public safety.”  

Attorneys say Ramirez has no criminal record. And he also has temporary legal status through an Obama program called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA. It’s for immigrants who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children and meet certain criteria and pass a background check.

Ramirez has filed a lawsuit in Seattle, challenging his detention.

Attorney Matt Adams said he's concerned his client has been wrongly imprisoned, but cautions against any greater alarm about the DACA program being targeted for arrests.

Adams: “What happened here does not reflect on any bigger picture. We don’t think this is a harbinger of things to come or any change in policy. We think it’s an enforcement operation gone awry.”

Meanwhile, one of President Trump’s executive orders did create new guidelines about who’s a priority for deportation.

According to court records, the agents who arrested Ramirez were aware of his DACA status but informed him he would be arrested, detained and deported anyway because "he was not born in this country."

A hearing on Ramirez case is set for Friday in Seattle. 

Year started with KUOW: 2006