Defending a Seattle Dreamer

February 24, 2017

Andrew Ryder reports from Washington on protests in defense of a man protected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program who is sitting in detention.

ACTIVISTS IN Seattle and Tacoma, Washington, are organizing to defend Daniel Ramirez Medina, a Dreamer detained at the Northwest Detention Center in the latest example of the Trump administration's escalating attack on undocumented immigrants.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents swept up more than 600 people in one week in early February, and while the new administration has yet to reverse Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)--the 2012 policy that allows immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children a reprieve from deportation--it has already begun to target those protected by DACA.

Although DACA forestalls deportations, the policy doesn't go far enough--it allows people to stay and work, but prevents them from experiencing the benefits of citizenship. While Trump hasn't officially reversed this order, ICE agents now appear prepared to disregard it. This places hundreds of thousands of people in immediate danger.

Ramirez, a DACA recipient who has lived in the U.S. for 16 years since he was 7 years old, was arrested along with his father in Seattle on February 10. Immigration officials claimed that Ramirez was involved in gangs, but provided scant evidence to back up the claim. His lawyers argue it has been falsified.

On the march in defense of Daniel Ramirez Medina
On the march in defense of Daniel Ramirez Medina (Andrew Ryder)

Although he has yet to be charged with a crime, Ramirez is still being detained in Tacoma, after a federal judge upheld ICE's action.

HUNDREDS OF people protested in Seattle in defense of Ramirez on February 17. Socialist City Council member City Kshama Sawant called for "mass nonviolent civil disobedience" to protect immigrants from ICE and other enforcement agents.

"I'm urging Mayor Murray: If this is a sanctuary city, do not use Seattle police against peaceful protesters," Sawant told the crowd. "Furthermore, deploy Seattle police to block ICE from seizing immigrants."

On February 19, some 150 people gathered in People's Park in Tacoma, where the Northwest Detention Center is located, to challenge ICE's anti-immigrant raids and demand Ramirez's release.

But this detention center's role didn't begin with Donald Trump. It was already a facility in service of former President Barack Obama's millions of deportations.

Furthermore, the Tacoma detention center is a source of profits for GEO Group, the largest purveyor of such services in the world. As Brian Huseby reported for in 2014:

GEO profits off of detainees in several ways: First, there is a guarantee that the center is kept full. If not, the government must pay a fine to GEO. Additionally, many detainees work at the facility, but are paid just $1 per day, saving GEO money it would have to pay to outside workers.

The protest, which was called by the Washington DREAM Coalition, marched down Martin Luther King Way, with protesters chanting "Freedom for Daniel! Now!"

If there is going to be justice for Daniel Ramirez Medina and freedom from fear of deportation for the more than 750,000 other DACA recipients and the millions more who are undocumented and living in the U.S., we need to continue building these emergency solidarity actions.

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