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Fear Among Immigrant Communities Mounts as ICE Launches Raids

The timing of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids less than a month after President Donald Trump vowed to crack down on non-citizens living in the U.S. illegally has spurred fear among immigrant communities. The ICE raids took place nationwide from February 4 to February 10 and resulted in nearly 700 immigrant arrests. During the ICE raids, immigration officials arrested 41 undocumented immigrants in the New York City area, including residents from the northern part of Staten Island, Bushwick and Elmhurst. According to ICE, out of the 41 non-citizens who were detained in New York City, 38 had criminal convictions. Fanning the flames of fear are reports that, among the detained, a Mexican immigrant, who had been cleared to live and work in the U.S. under President Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, was also arrested.

The news of the ICE raids came shortly after immigrant communities were shaken by the announcement of President Trump's executive order that placed a travel ban on seven predominantly Muslim nations. This, along with rumors that federal agents are posing inquiries into immigration status on the streets and in businesses, has left many questioning their sense of security in the U.S. The Trump administration holds firm that these ICE raids are being performed as part of the president's campaign promise to crack down on illegal immigration.

President Trump's executive order, announced on January 25, expanded the deportation priorities to include non-citizens who are charged with a criminal offense of any kind or is suspected of committing criminal acts, fraud or willful dishonesty while interacting with immigration officials. The priorities were also expanded to those who are subject to a pending order of removal or who were previously deported and re-entered the country. In part, the order provided more power to ICE officers to decide whether or not a non-citizen posed a “risk to public safety” and could, therefore, be detained.

During the ICE raids, Daniel Ramirez Medina, a 23-year-old Mexican immigrant with no prior criminal arrest or conviction, was detained in Seattle, Washington, after ICE officials came to arrest his father. Prior to this incident, Mr. Ramirez was granted a permit to live and work in the U.S. under DACA, a program established by the Obama administration that protects children who were brought to the U.S. by undocumented parents from being deported. He is the first DACA recipient detained under the Trump administration.

According to ICE officials, Mr. Ramirez's detainment was intentional and have stated that his DACA status can be terminated because of his alleged gang affiliation. Mr. Ramirez, who still remains in custody, has filed a challenge against his detainment, arguing that the U.S. government infringed upon his constitutional rights by arresting him after he was previously granted permission to stay in the country. In his lawsuit, Mr. Ramirez claims that he had shown his DACA papers to ICE officials, once in his father's home and once again at a processing center.

Court documents filed February 23, 2017, reports that Mr. Ramirez has a “gang tattoo” on his forearm, however Mr. Ramirez's attorney said the ICE agents misidentified the tattoo. According to Mr. Ramirez's attorney the tattoo says “La Paz BCS,” referring to the term “peace” in Spanish and Baja California Sur, where Mr. Ramirez's attorney said he was born. The ICE brief filed has not linked Mr. Ramirez to specific incidents with a gang.

With immigration policies transforming rapidly under the Trump administration, it is now more important than ever for non-citizens to know their legal rights and available pathways to legal residence or citizenship. If you are concerned about the legal status of yourself or your loved ones and are seeking guidance on your immigration matter, contact the experienced New York immigration lawyers at Bretz & Coven, LLP. With two immigration law offices located in New York, New York and Metro Park, New Jersey, the firm's attorneys are available to provide non-citizens in the tri-state area the legal representation they need. For more information or to schedule a consultation, call 1 (212) 267-2555 or fill out our contact form.

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