During the Obama-era, the “dreamer” program was popular. This program would offer young children brought to the United States as illegal immigrants special protections that included the ability to stay and work in the country. The biggest benefit from this program was to offer protections to children that were brought here by parents who were also illegals. DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, offered a term of deferred action for any deportation orders.
The program was not an automatic and requirements included very specific qualifications including no illegal activity. As Daniel Ramirez Medina would find out, the program did not protect those with criminal records or connections to illegal activities. Ramirez Medina at one time was protected as a “dreamer” but this would change when he was arrested recently in Seattle, WA.
This particular “dreamer” was more like a nightmare for the community impacted by his family. Ramirez Medina was detained as ICE agents closed in on his father Antonio Ramirez Poledo. Ramirez Poledo has been deported or escorted back to Mexico 7 times since 2000. He also has a felony conviction for drug trafficking in King County.
It is clear the that Ramirez Poledo is a repeat offender without any regard for the U.S border protections efforts. He also has a direct tie to drug trafficking. He is simply not an innocent victim of the system. The issue came up in regards to conflicting reports about his son Daniel Ramirez Medina and gang ties.
ICE agents, upon the arrest of both men, inquired about a gang-related tattoo on the arm of the younger man. When they inquired about the tie to gangs, Ramirez Medina stated that he, at one point, had ties to the “Surenos” out of California. He left the state to escape that particular gang only to get involved with the “Paizas” in Washington.
The ties to two different gangs may seem like a small issue until one explores the deep roots of both organized crime and drug trafficking. The Surenos are well-known members of the organized crime problem in California. Gangs in both California and Washington have a huge impact on crime including violence, drug trafficking, theft, and organized retail theft.
The combination of the admitted gang ties and the fact that Ramirez Medina had family ties to drug trafficking made him a threat to the community. This type of threat was not what DACA was meant to protect or shield.
Upon the arrest of both of these men, the younger of the two would lose his DACA status. Many mainstream media outlets continue to report that Ramirez Medina is in fact protected by DACA but this is simply not true once his gang ties terminated his eligibility. The Department of Homeland Security estimates that 1,500 recipients of DACA have lost their status due to criminal convictions, gang affiliations or convictions of crimes tied to gangs.
The outcry over the arrest of Ramirez Medina has brought to light a great deal of confusion concerning the DACA program. With its start in 2012 by the Obama administration, the DACA program was meant to offer special protections for children brought to the United States illegally. They essentially were granting special protections for illegal immigrants who crossed the border as children via parents also crossing illegally.
Since 2012, DACA has approved approximately 750,000 applications with another 46,229 pending. Coverage under the DACA program is not automatic, nor is it a lifetime guarantee. All applicants must pass a background check and avoid criminal activities as well as gang activities. The children and then young adults covered under DACA would become the “dreamers” as they were given a chance to work and stay legally.
While DACA does afford those who pass the application process the right to stay legally in the United States, this is not a blanket protection if the individuals commit a crime or are found to have gang ties. It is a mistake to assume someone that has committed a crime while under DACA would not lose that protection and then be subject to deportation. In the case of Ramirez Medina, the close ties to gang activity were something he admitted but later recanted when he secured an attorney. Even if the story changed and the version now being told by Ramirez Medina is very different from the testimony of the interviewing ICE agents, the fact that Ramirez Medina wears a gang affiliated tattoo is telling.
Another piece of this puzzle that is not changing is the fact that Ramirez Medina was found with his father who has a felony conviction for drug trafficking and has had more than a few deportation actions. It is not uncommon for gangs to be involved in drug trafficking, so it is not that much of a leap to consider the drug ties to Ramirez Medina.
As protesters demand Ramirez Medina be released under the protections of DACA, it is clear they are missing a pretty simple point. DACA is a privilege, not a right. One must first qualify for the protection, maintain the list of qualifications including no criminal or gang activity and renew the application. This protection was never meant to shield illegal activities from prosecution including deportation. Having gang ties and also harboring a parent who ICE has every right to deport is not something that was covered by the DACA protections.
Ramirez Medina has for some, become a face for everything that is wrong with the current efforts of ICE agents. It is more than a stretch to overlook the drug ties, gang activity and the on-going family disregard for the United States legal system as strong reasons to not only suspend DACA but also deport both the father and son. The current efforts of ICE agents are merely a part of their job, with a duty to locate and arrest illegal immigrants who pose a risk to the community. Ties to both gangs and drug trafficking are both substantial risks to community safety.