Judge won’t release Mexican man jailed near Seattle

Gene Johnson
Associated Press

Seattle — A federal judge has upheld a decision not to release a Mexican man who was arrested near Seattle despite his participation in a program designed to protect those brought to the U.S. illegally as children.

In a decision Friday, U.S. District Judge Ricardo S. Martinez said “many questions remain regarding the appropriateness of the government’s conduct” for the arrest of 24-year-old Daniel Ramirez Medina, but that he should challenge his detention in immigration court, a separate legal system run by the U.S. Justice Department.

The order upheld a previous decision by U.S. Magistrate Judge James P. Donohue.

Immigration agents arrested Ramirez Feb. 10 at a suburban apartment complex after they went there to arrest his father, a previously deported felon. Ramirez was also detained and agents said he admitted to affiliating with gangs.

Ramirez, who is being held at a federal detention center in Tacoma, adamantly denies the claims. He has no criminal record and twice passed background checks to participate in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which allows people brought to the U.S. illegally as children to stay in the country and work.

His lawyers have sought to keep his case out of federal immigration court, which they say is ill-equipped to handle his claims that his arrest violated his constitutional rights to due process and to be free from unreasonable seizure.

They have not challenged the deportation proceedings initiated by the government, but have sought his release on constitutional grounds.

The judge noted that the Department of Homeland Security has the authority to detain people who are in the U.S. illegally during their deportation proceedings.

That means Ramirez would not be entitled to release even if the court found his rights were violated, Martinez said.

“He has placed himself in the tenuous position of arguing that his arrest and detention have violated his constitutional rights, while also asserting that he is not challenging the revocation of his DACA status or ‘anything that has to do with the removal proceedings themselves,’” Martinez wrote.

The judge added that the case is unusual and that he had sympathy for Ramirez’s situation.

Ramirez’ lawyers are disappointed that he remains in custody and are trying to determine how to try to win his release, Manny Rivera, a spokesman for the lawyers, said Monday.

Ramirez is originally from the city of La Paz in Mexico’s Baja California Sur state.