On Friday, a Seattle judge ruled not to release 23-year-old Daniel Ramirez Medina from the Northwest Detention Center at Tacoma, even though Ramirez, who was arrested by ICE agents more than a week ago, has permission to live and work in the United States under President Obama’s DACA program. Ramirez has been in the United States since he was seven years old. For more on his case, we speak with Tim Warden-Hertz, the directing attorney for the Tacoma office of the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project. We also speak with Franco Ordoñez, White House correspondent for the McClatchy Washington Bureau. His latest article is ”DHS chief proposes prosecuting parents of children smuggled into U.S.”
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And there also seems to be some confusion, Franco, doesn’t there, about what—how this would affect the DACA, the young people, in terms of new policy? Could you explain that, as well?
FRANCO ORDOÑEZ: Sure. DACA—so, these proposals do specifically—or these orders specifically do say that DACA is protected. However, that hasn’t—that hasn’t calmed people’s concerns so much, because, one, in other parts of the order, it also says that no protected—there will be no protected class. And these orders also go on to say that they expand the definition of who is a criminal immigrant. Not only do you have to be convicted of a crime, you could be charged with a crime. You can actually also be believed to be—committed a crime. So it’s a wide swath of people who could be targeted. It is—DACA is mentioned; however, you know, there are some conflicting statements there also. Also, we’ve all seen some of the leaked reports about potentially ending DACA. So there are still, you know, big question marks out there about DACA.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, the new DHS memos come on the heels of Friday’s arrest of Daniel Ramirez Medina in Washington state. Ramirez has permission to live and work in the United States under President Obama’s program DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. His arrest alarmed immigrant communities, who fear the Trump administration could soon target other DACA recipients. This is Paul Quinones of the Washington Dream Act Coalition.
PAUL QUINONES: If any of us had any doubt that Trump’s regime has declared an open war and open season on all immigrants in this country, that doubt should have evaporated by now. With Daniel’s arrest, we have seen the federal government breaking its promise and showing that it cannot be trusted.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, also joining us from Seattle is Tim Warden-Hertz. He’s the directing attorney for the Tacoma office of the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project.
Welcome to Democracy Now!
TIM WARDEN-HERTZ: Thank you.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Could you tell us about the situation with the arrest of Mr. Ramirez on Friday?
TIM WARDEN-HERTZ: That’s right. Well, on Friday, the judge in Seattle ordered that Mr. Ramirez remain detained in the Tacoma detention center. And, you know, right now we’re focusing on trying to ensure that his constitutional rights are protected. You know, he—like you discussed, I mean, he has no criminal record at all. He’s been twice applied for and been vetted and been granted protection under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. And despite that, he was picked up by immigration officials.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: But—
TIM WARDEN-HERTZ: And so—go ahead.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: But why are they holding him, then, if he is protected under DACA? What are they alleging?
TIM WARDEN-HERTZ: Well, I mean, at this point, you know, they don’t—haven’t put forward any evidence. I think there have been some statements that they’ve made regarding a possible gang membership. Again, I think we—Mr. Ramirez and we certainly dispute that. And as I mentioned, there is absolutely no evidence of that given. And, in fact, in the filings that we submitted to the court in Seattle, there is evidence of even some fabrications of evidence regarding that.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, what are your concerns about not only what the Trump administration has done so far, but now the word of this new—these memos that Secretary Kelly has signed off on, on what—how that could affect undocumented immigrants or people who are—or DACA recipients? What are your main concerns?
TIM WARDEN-HERTZ: Sure. Yeah, I mean, I think you touched on some of them. I think that—and I think Mr. Ramirez’s case actually is a good example of sort of the lack of process that we may be seeing sort of expanded under this administration. So, I think the expansion of expedited removal is certainly one piece of that. I think it is dramatic, as you mentioned, up to two years of having been in the United States. But I think it goes even further than that, because the memos discuss, you know, having to prove to the satisfaction of an immigration officer that you’ve been in the United States for two years, or else you’re subject to this expedited removal, where you’re deported without a chance to even have a day in court. And, you know, I mean, I think about that. You know, if I were pulled over, I’m not sure that I could prove—right?—that I’ve been in the United States for two years, just based on what I have in my wallet. And so, you know, I think that there’s a lot of these other pieces, whether it’s that or whether it’s hearing programs held at remote county jails or prisons, or, you know, the protections being taken away for unaccompanied minors, that, again, really chip away at the chance for people to even have a process to figure out whether or not they might have protections under the laws that exist.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, if you could explain more clearly, so folks who are not familiar with immigration law, on this expedited removal situation, how the changing of the definition affects so many more people, because wasn’t it before this you had to have been found within—what?—a hundred miles of a U.S. border or have been in the country less than—was it?—two weeks or two months, and now they’ve expanded it to two years? Explain the difference.
TIM WARDEN-HERTZ: That’s right. Yeah, so, you know, the existing regulations around—that I think stem—that are from 2002, they limited the use of expedited removal to folks who are found within a hundred miles of the border and within two weeks of having entered the United States. So there’s that sort of time and location limitation on expedited removal. And again, what these memos would do would remove that. And so, it would leave anyone in the United States subject to expedited removal, unless they could prove to the satisfaction of the immigration officer who’s arresting them that they’ve been in the United States for more than two years. So it takes away any geographic limitation and then creates at least—hugely expanded, and, again, like I mentioned before, maybe not even that limited two-year temporal limitation.