ICE Director: “Boo hoo hoo, why are people saying mean things about us?”
On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Ricardo S. Martinez shot down the federal government’s efforts to strip Daniel Ramirez Medina of his DACA status. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement had arrested and detained Ramirez last year, then falsely claimed that he was affiliated with a gang and attempted to deport him. He filed suit, alleging that ICE had violated his due process rights. Martinez agreed. His order barred the federal government from voiding Ramirez’s DACA status, safeguarding his ability to live and work in the United States legally for the foreseeable future. What may be most remarkable about Martinez’s decision, though, is its blunt repudiation of ICE’s main claim—that Ramirez is “gang-affiliated.” The judge did not simply rule against ICE. He accused the agency of lying to a court of law.
The facts of Ramirez’s case are extremely disturbing. In February 2017, shortly after President Donald Trump unleashed immigration agents to amp up arrests and deportations, ICE agents went to Ramirez’s father’s house in Seattle to arrest him. (The father is undocumented, and brought Ramirez to the U.S. illegally as a child.) While there, they encountered Ramirez and asked him whether he was “legally here.” He responded that he was—a truthful statement given his DACA status, which he had renewed the previous May. Yet ICE officers detained him anyway. They took him to a processing center, where, once again, he told them that he had a work permit.
“It doesn’t matter,” an agent responded, “because you weren’t born in this country.”
ICE then interrogated Ramirez, fingerprinted and booked him, confiscated his work permit, sent him to a detention center, and placed him in removal proceedings. It also purported to revoke his DACA status, subjecting him to imminent deportation. Typically, the government may not rescind an individual’s DACA status without giving the beneficiary an opportunity to contest its decision. But ICE claimed that Ramirez’s DACA benefits could be terminated “automatically” because he presented an “egregious public safety concern” due to his alleged gang affiliation. (ICE routinely alleges that Latino immigrants with no indication of gang affiliation are members of a gang in order to detain and deport them.)
A group of renowned attorneys then stepped in to defend Ramirez, arguing that virtually every action ICE had taken against their client was unlawful. They also alleged that ICE’s key claim—that Ramirez is “gang-affiliated”—was a complete falsehood. One of his lawyers, Mark Rosenbaum, presented evidence indicating that ICE had doctored Ramirez’s statement by erasing words he had written in the pencil provided to make it seem as if he had confessed to being in a gang. (The original statement asserts he has no gang affiliation.) During his initial interrogation, ICE officers asked him five times whether he belonged to a gang, and he repeatedly said no. Instead, he asserted that he had “fled California [to Washington] to escape from the gangs.”
Martinez, a George W. Bush appointee, was plainly incensed by the agency’s lies. ICE’s “conclusory findings,” he wrote, have “been contradicted by experts and other evidence.” The government “produced no evidence” to contradict multiple experts’ testimony discrediting ICE’s bizarre interpretation of Ramirez’s tattoo. And its claims are “completely contradictory to the government’s own previous findings after extensive background checks that were meant to uncover evidence of ‘known or suspected gang association.’ ”
As Stern says, these actions are the appropriate context for Trump’s animals remarks. The idea that Trump was carefully targeting demonstrably dangerous gang members is absurd, and requires ignoring the rhetoric Trump has been using from the day he announced his campaign. I can’t recommend this thread from Julian Sanchez highly enough.