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DREAMer Will Not Be Released While Detention Challenge Proceeds, Judge Rules

A federal judge accepted a magistrate judge's recommendation that a DACA holder who has been detained since Feb. 10 should not be released while his case proceeds.

Originally posted on
Updated on

UPDATE

A federal judge on Friday ruled that a DREAMer detained since Feb. 10 should not be granted conditional release while his case proceeds, adopting the recommendation of a federal magistrate judge.

US District Judge Ricardo Martinez ruled that Daniel Ramirez Medina "has placed himself in the tenuous position of arguing" against his arrest and detention before the federal court while not challenging the revocation of his status under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) or "anything that has to do with the removal proceedings themselves."

This argument brought by Ramirez's lawyers, while unusual, was the only way to avoid laws that prevent challenging removal proceedings outside of immigration court. Nonetheless, Martinez ruled Friday, "That position ultimately leads this Court to agree ... that Petitioner is not entitled to release at this stage of the proceedings."

ORIGINAL REPORT

WASHINGTON — A federal magistrate judge overseeing the challenge to the detention of a DREAMer in Seattle has recommended that the undocumented immigrant's challenge be allowed to proceed outside of immigration court.

The magistrate judge also recommended, however, that the DREAMer, Daniel Ramirez Medina, not be released from detention while the case proceeds.

Ramirez was detained on Feb. 10, after US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents came to the house, where he was staying, searching for his father. Ramirez also was detained, later identified as having "gang association," and has since been placed into removal proceedings and is being held at the Northwest Detention Center. Ramirez, who had previously been approved for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA), has denied the gang association claim.

US Magistrate Judge James Donohue held a hearing March 8 on the government’s motion to dismiss the case and Ramirez’s motion for conditional release.

Objections to Tuesday's report from Donohue are to be filed by March 28. If there are none, US District Judge Ricardo Martinez will be free to consider whether to accept, reject, or modify the recommendation on March 31.

Ramirez — represented by a large group of advocacy and law firm lawyers and law professors — filed a habeas corpus petition challenging the constitutionality of his arrest and detention in federal court.

The federal government argued that Ramirez was barred from bringing a claim in federal court. Instead, they have asserted that the case should be heard through the immigration court system, an administrative court organized under the Justice Department.

Donohue sided with Ramirez on Tuesday on the question of whether the claim could be brought in federal court.

"Because Petitioner’s constitutional claims relate to the ICE officers’ actions before removal proceedings were filed, and do not seek to disrupt the outcome of removal proceedings, the Court finds that they are independent of the removal process," Donohue wrote, and thus allowed to proceed.

Ramirez's lawsuit is also seeking forward-looking relief against future arrests and broad relief for all DACA holders.

The federal government has argued he lacks the standing to seek that remedy, but Donohue concluded that isn't at issue yet.

"Whether, and to what extent, Petitioner may be entitled to any of the relief he seeks in this action is difficult to discern at this early stage of the proceedings and, as Petitioner points out, the question of whether he is entitled to the relief he seeks goes to the merits of his claims."

On the question of whether Ramirez should be granted conditional release while his habeas case is considered by the federal court, Donohue sided with the federal government. Even assuming the court has the ability to order his conditional release — an unresolved question, Donohue wrote, in the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit — the release is only appropriate in "extraordinary cases involving special circumstances or a high probability of success."

Due to the unclear legal consequences of being approved for DACA, Donoue concluded that he could not recommend release now.

"[C]ourts have not defined the rights that flow from this 'lawful presence' or discussed whether DACA gives rise to greater protection in the form of a constitutionally protected liberty interest," Donohue wrote. "Thus, whether the ICE officers had probable cause to continue questioning Petitioner after they learned he was a DACA beneficiary depends on the scope of the benefits attendant to 'lawful presence' and the exact nature of any liberty interest conferred by DACA."

As such, Donohue recommended that conditional release not be granted to Ramirez while his habeas claim proceeds.

Read the report and recommendations:

Chris Geidner is the legal editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC. In 2014, Geidner won the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association award for journalist of the year.

Contact Chris Geidner at chris.geidner@buzzfeed.com.

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