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DACA Recipient Challenges Detention by Immigration Authorities

Algodones sand-dune-fenceThe Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, first announced in June 2012, allows undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children to remain here and work, provided they meet certain eligibility criteria. The purpose of the program is to focus immigration enforcement priorities away from people who contribute to American society. The status of the program under the new administration, however, remains uncertain. Some recent enforcement actions have resulted in the arrest and detention of DACA beneficiaries. One such individual has filed suit against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and an official of its agency, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Ramirez Medina v. Asher, No. 2:17-cv-00218, pet. for writ of habeas corpus (W.D. Wash., Feb. 13, 2017).

DACA constitutes an agreement by the federal government to refrain from immigration enforcement actions against approved individuals for a two-year period. This was made renewable for additional two-year periods in 2014 and 2016. Beneficiaries are also granted work authorization. They are not, however, granted lawful immigration status, which is outside of the president’s authority under federal immigration law. The program attracted close to a million applications, more than 700,000 of which were approved.

To be eligible, a candidate had to be under the age of thirty-one as of June 15, 2012, and had to have entered the U.S. prior to their sixteenth birthday and before June 15, 2007. They had to be physically present in the U.S. without lawful immigration status on both June 15, 2012 and the date they applied for DACA. They could not have a felony or major misdemeanor conviction, nor more than three minor misdemeanor convictions. They had to pass a national security-related background check. Finally, they had to have a high school diploma or GED, honorable discharge from the U.S. Armed Forces, or current enrollment in school.

According to court documents, the petitioner in Ramirez Medina arrived in the U.S. from Mexico in approximately 2001, when he was seven years old, and has remained here since. He states that he first applied for, and received, DACA status in 2014. DHS reportedly approved the renewal of his status on May 5, 2016, meaning that it should remain in effect until at least May 5, 2018. He states that he has not committed any crimes during this time that would invalidate his DACA approval. He further notes that DHS has “twice confirmed” his eligibility for the program. Ramirez Medina, pet. at 8. Nevertheless, ICE agents reportedly arrested the petitioner at his home on February 10, 2017.

The petitioner filed his lawsuit, a petition for habeas corpus relief, after nearly three days in ICE custody. He is asserting causes of action for violations of both procedural and substantive due process rights under the Fifth Amendment, and Fourth Amendment unlawful seizure. He states that he “relied on DHS’s promise that, so long as he continued to meet the criteria established by DACA, any immigration action against him would be deferred.” Id. at 14.

Immigration lawyer Samuel C. Berger represents prospective immigrants who want to come to the New York City and Northern New Jersey areas, as well as immigrants who have made their homes here. Additionally, he represents employers seeking immigrant or nonimmigrant visas for foreign workers, and family members petitioning for an immigrant visa. Please contact us today online, at (201) 587-1500, or at (212) 380-8117 to schedule a confidential consultation with a member of our skilled and experienced team.

More Blog Posts:

Travel Outside the U.S. for DACA Recipients Remains Tricky, New York & New Jersey Immigration Lawyer Blog, May 13, 2015

Federal Government Allows Extension of DACA Status, Amid Efforts to Roll Back the Program, New York & New Jersey Immigration Lawyer Blog, August 6, 2014

Resources Abound to Help People Determine Their Eligibility for DACA, Including a new Mobile App, New York & New Jersey Immigration Lawyer Blog, October 17, 2013

Photo credit: US Border Patrol [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.