FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 16, 2017
Anna Castro | firstname.lastname@example.org | 619.228.5332
Mi Familia Vota Condemns ICE’s Use of Coercion and Lack of Transparency in Arrest and Detention of Young DACA Recipient
WASHINGTON, D.C. —Mi Familia Vota joins immigrants’ rights advocates across the country in denouncing the detention of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipient Daniel Ramirez-Medina following an enforcement action in Des Moines, Washington by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). He is currently detained at the Northwest Detention Center and is awaiting his day in court on Friday.
Ramirez-Medina was unjustly arrested and detained, as government agents refused to recognize his DACA status.
“It is the responsibility of federal law enforcement agents to respect the U.S. Constitution, and executive actions by previous administrations that have not been revoked, which grant lawful presence in the U.S. and other rights to these individuals,” said Ben Monterroso, executive director of Mi Familia Vota.
Daniel is the first known DACA recipient to be caught in the Trump administration’s dragnet against immigrants regardless of status. United We Dream, a national organization led by young immigrants, has delivered more than 14,000 petitions to immigration officials demanding Daniel’s release.
“Let’s be clear. When ICE agents knocked on the door of his home, they were not looking for Daniel, but for another suspected undocumented individual. However, as agents swept up ‘collateral’ individuals who are not green card holders or citizens, Daniel was arrested even though he maintained he has DACA status. That is grossly unfair,” Monterroso said.
Daniel’s attorneys say that he was forced to sign a document stating he was a gang member by ICE agents and was not given access to a hotline specifically for DACA recipients who have been incorrectly detained by immigration agents.
The Department of Homeland Security has doubled down on their attack to DACA recipients by stating that because Daniel admitted to being a gang member he was detained. For immigrant rights advocates who have litigated cases against the Department of Homeland Security, and particularly ICE and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) for the unconstitutional tactics used to coerce immigrants into signing their own deportation orders, this is an unsettling moment in which it is clear that the agents are acting as judge and jury without regard to the law.
In their briefing to the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington, the U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Division Office of Immigration Litigation did not provide concrete evidence as to why ICE agents determined Daniel is a gang-member. Their attacks on his character reflect an increasing reliance on profiling that threatens to corrupt our judicial system. If proof of a crime being committed is not the basis on which people are detained, this paints a target on the back of all immigrants.
ICE’s lack of transparency and disregard for due process for immigrants were documented during the implementation of the Muslim ban executive order, and last week immigrant rights advocates collected more stories of the coercion immigrants are facing by newly emboldened immigration agents under the Trump Administration.
“It seems clear that the toxic rhetoric that has surrounded all mention of immigrants from the Trump Administration has emboldened ICE agents to act without taking into consideration existing protections for DACA recipients. More troubling is what appears to be efforts to force Daniel to criminalize himself after he was detained. What happened to innocent until proven guilty – the principle on which our legal system is based?” Monterroso added.
“We ask our lawmakers to continue to pressure ICE into giving the public answers on their deportation procedures. The impression that these last few week’s of deportations have left is that ICE is using the executive orders as an excuse to separate hard-working parents from their children. It is also the Republican-controlled Congress’s responsibility to reform to our unjust immigration system. If they don’t, our families will remember their inaction,” Monterroso said.