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ICE is here to curb-stomp your stupid 'rights.'


ICE detained a Seattle man, Daniel Ramirez Medina, and tried to strip him of his DACA protection because, they say, he's actually a dangerous gang-affiliated Bad Hombre who has to be hustled out of the country to keep Americans safe. Thing is, there's no evidence Ramirez has any gang connections at all, and ICE altered Ramirez's own statements to make it look like he admitted the very gang affiliations he was denying. The good news: A federal judge just set things right and told ICE to quit trying to make "gang affiliation" happen in Ramirez's case, because ICE was clearly lying. The bad news: It happened in the first place, we have NO IDEA how many other similar cases there might be where ICE may have done this to people who lacked excellent volunteer lawyers, and, oh yes, the ICE agents who tried to railroad Ramirez will almost certainly not face any consequences.

The full horror show is detailed in a brilliant story at Slate by Mark Joseph Stern that will have you saying "HOLY FUCKING SHIT" every other paragraph, if not more often than that.

ICE scooped up Ramirez while going after his father, who's undocumented, in February 2017 -- just after the Trump administration redefined "dangerous criminal aliens" as anyone who's undocumented. When ICE agents in Seattle grabbed his dad, the younger Ramirez was at the house, so they arrested him, too. He protested that he was here legally under DACA, but the agents weren't impressed that he had some papers. He'd been brought here illegally when he was 10 (he's 25 now, and has an American-born kid of his own), so when he showed his DACA papers at the ICE processing office, an agent told him, "It doesn’t matter, because you weren’t born in this country."

Honestly, it's just logic: If he's in a program that grants work permits and stays of deportation to illegals, he was illegal, now wasn't he? They took Ramirez's work permit away and put him in detention where they were sure he belonged, even though he had a clean arrest record, which of course he did because that's a requirement to qualify for DACA.

Things then proceeded to get stupid, and fast. ICE took the necessary steps to rescind his DACA eligibility and deport him, because they decided he was affiliated with a gang. Their evidence? Ramirez had a tattoo on his arm: a nautical star and the words "La Paz—BCS," and if that's not an obvious gang tattoo, then what is? ICE ignored Ramirez's insistence that he had never been in a gang, and that the tattoo simply meant "La Paz, Baja California Sur," the city and state of his birth, because as everyone knows, gang members are all liars (experts later testified, during the appeals process, that Ramirez's tattoo doesn't resemble any known gang tattoos). So they put him in detention with gang members and fast-tracked his deportation order on the grounds that gang members are ineligible for DACA, and must be sent away forever, without so much as a hearing, since they're a threat to the public. Yes, that's legal, although ICE is apparently quite happy to lie about who has gang affiliations.

You see, Ramirez petitioned to be removed from being held with gangsters, some of whom were out to get him because they thought he belonged to a rival gang because ICE had said he was a member of that gang. (He wasn't -- see page 4 of Judge Ricardo S. Martinez's order to make sense of ICE's convoluted fuckup in reasoning.) Martinez wrote on the form -- in pencil -- his reason for a request out of the gang population:

I came in and the officers said I have gang affiliation with gangs so I wear an orange uniform. I do not have a criminal history and I’m not affiliated with any gangs.

As a copy of the document released by Ramirez's pro bono lawyer, Mark Rosenbaum, shows, ICE appears to have erased "I came in and the officers said" from the form, so now the first sentence appears to read "I have gang affiliation with gangs so I wear an orange uniform." Which would be a weird thing to write, absent that first clause. Here's that form, which is simultaneously laughable and enraging because the erasure is so fucking obvious:

The second sentence still denies gang affiliation, which we suppose just proves what a bad liar Ramirez is. Or perhaps how bad ICE is at lying and submitting falsified evidence to a federal court. Rosenbaum called the clumsy erasure "one of the most serious examples of governmental misconduct that I have come across in my 40 years of practice." Eventually, Martinez was at least able to post bond, and was released from detention in late March 2017, although he remained under a deportation order because of that supposed "self admitted" gang membership, which ICE took care to mention in press releases

Judge Martinez's order (pp 17-18) documents even more fuckery in an ICE field agent's interview of Ramirez:

Subject was asked if he is or has been involved with any gang activity. Subject stated “No not no more”. Subject was questioned further regarding the gang tattoo on his forearm. Subject then stated that he used to hang out with the Sureno’s in California. Subject stated that he fled California to escape from the gangs. Subject stated that he still hangs out with the Paizas in Washington State.

Nope, nope, nope, nope, nope: 1) Ramirez only said he'd known some kids in middle and high school who he knew to be in gangs, according to Judge Martinez's order; 2) It's a tatttoo, not a "gang tattoo" but that's a nice bit of loaded description; 3) the affiliation with "Surenos in California" appears to refer to Ramirez's tattoo, which as we noted only refers to "Baja California Sur"; 4) Ramirez has argued all along that he moved to Washington to get a better job; he in no way "fled California." 5) When Ramirez was placed in detention with gangs, ICE asked him if he had a preference of gangs to be with, for his "safety." He said if he had to be with any gangs, he'd prefer to be with "the paisas" -- a colloquial term for fellow Mexicans, which ICE assumed was his preferred gang.

That's a hell of a lot of false assumptions and outright distortions in just six sentences. The only true part of the ICE statement is the one saying they asked him about gang affiliation.

Judge Martinez's order reinstating Ramirez's DACA status and telling ICE to never again refer to Ramirez as "gang affiliated" is a surprisingly gripping read -- it's even more astonishing than the Slate piece, even though it's a formal judicial order. What's disturbing, of course, is that while things look good for Daniel Ramirez Medina, there's no shortage of ICE fuckery in other cases, and ICE regularly relies on flawed database information to label people gang members, with no chance for the accused to appeal.

And now we know they also just plain lie. If someone gets a good team of pro bono lawyers like Ramirez did, ICE probably won't get away with it. Of course, as we always note, immigration courts are civil courts, so there's no right to a free public defender, and ICE is even cracking down on programs designed to inform detainees they even have the option to look for an attorney.

We're so Great Again that we've discarded the very notion of due process. What a country.

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[Slate / Alternet / The Stranger / Order in Ramirez Medina v DHS]

Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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