U.S. immigration authorities have detained a 23-year-old Mexican man who was brought to the United States illegally as a child and given a work permit during the Obama administration, according to a lawsuit challenging the detention in Seattle federal court.
The man’s lawyers say this could be the first time under U.S. President Donald Trump that a person covered by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, has been taken into immigration custody. The program was established in 2012 by Democratic President Barack Obama to allow those brought to the country while young to attend school and work.
Ethan Dettmer, a partner in the law firm Gibson Dunn & Crutcher and one of the lawyers representing the man, Daniel Ramirez Medina, said he is not aware of any other DACA recipient who has been arrested.
“We are hoping this detention was a mistake,” he added.
Ramirez was a “self-admitted gang member,” said Rose Richeson, a spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), in a statement.
“ICE officers took Mr Ramirez into custody based on his admitted gang affiliation and risk to public safety.”
Richeson declined to elaborate further on how ICE established the man was a member of a gang.
Dettmer said Ramirez “unequivocally denies” being in a gang.
“While in custody, he was repeatedly pressured by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents to falsely admit affiliation,” said Dettmer. “The statement issued tonight by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is not accurate.”
Ramirez, who has no criminal record according to court papers filed in his case, was taken into custody last week at his father’s home in Seattle by ICE officers.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.