A Mexican man who was brought to the United States illegally as a child and given a work permit under the Obama administration has been detained in Seattle by U.S. immigration authorities, according to a lawsuit challenging his detention.
This could be the first time under President Donald Trump’s administration that a person covered by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, has been taken into immigration custody, according to the man’s lawyers.
“We are hoping this detention was a mistake,” Ethan Dettmer, a partner in the law firm Gibson Dunn & Crutcher and one of the lawyers representing the man said. He also said that he is not aware of any other DACA recipient who has been arrested.
The man being detained, Daniel Ramirez Medina, 23, was a “self-admitted gang member,” said Rose Richeson, a spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), in a statement.
“ICE officers took Mr. Ramirez into custody based on his admitted gang affiliation and risk to public safety,” she continued.
Richeson declined to comment further on how ICE established that the man was a gang member.
However, Ramirez “unequivocally denies” being in a gang, Dettmer said.
“While in custody, he was repeatedly pressured by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents to falsely admit affiliation,” said Dettmer. “The statement issued tonight by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is not accurate.”
According to the court papers filed in his case, Ramirez has no criminal record and was taken into custody last week by ICE officers, while at his father’s home in Seattle.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for a comment on the situation.
However, in an interview last month with ABC News, Trump did say that his administration was devising a policy on how to deal with people covered by DACA. He did not indicate specific, concrete plans, though.
“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.
In 2014, Ramirez was granted temporary permission to live and work in the United States under DACA, according to the lawsuit. In 2016, he renewed his status.
The DACA program protects 750,000 people who were brought to the United States as children, sometimes called “dreamers, from deportation.
Ramirez is now being detained in Tacoma, Washington and was unavailable for a comment.