The biggest fear Dreamers, recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), had when the new administration began was that its hard stance on illegal immigration would make them vulnerable to deportation despite having legal protection. On February 10, 2017 Daniel Ramirez Medina was one of the first Dreamers to see this nightmare come true.
While asleep at his father’s home outside of Seattle, Washington, Medina awoke to ICE officials detaining his father. Quickly they turned their attention to Medina and his brother questioning everything from their status to their appearance.
The 24-year-old Mexican immigrant had just moved to Washington looking for work. He had been employed as an orange picker in California’s Central Valley where he had lived since arriving in the US with his parents at age seven. ICE agents believed his forearm tattoo was gang related and asked if he was affiliated. Although he was not in a gang and stated that he had work permit, which he received in 2014 and 2016, he was still detained. “The government already knows that I’m not a gang member. Like all ‘dreamers,’ I gave all of my personal information and fingerprints to the government to qualify for DACA. They verified twice that I have no criminal history, was never affiliated with any gang and was not a threat to public safety,” said Medina in an opinion piece that appeared in the Washington Post during his detention.
Medina spent six weeks at a facility in Tacoma, including his 24th birthday, waiting to get out and more important to see his three-year-old son. “I was treated as though my DACA status and my work authorization meant nothing,” Medina wrote. He was finally released on March 29th and found himself at the center of a national debate about the federal governments’ treatment of undocumented immigrants, specifically Dreamers.
Medina was right, the fight continues. In November, a Federal court in Washington refused the governments’ request to dismiss the suit stating that as a DACA recipient Medina was protected by the government’s own internal policy and must face the charges brought against them. A victory for Medina could save others from experiencing the same nightmare.