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Seattle judge recommends 'Dreamer' case be heard in federal court

By Kristina Cooke

(Reuters) - A Seattle federal judge on Tuesday recommended that his court hear the case of a Mexican immigrant with a work permit who is challenging his arrest by U.S. immigration authorities in February.

In a report filed in district court, U.S. Magistrate Judge James Donohue recommended denying the U.S. government's motion to dismiss the case brought by Daniel Ramirez Medina, a so-called Dreamer who came to the United States illegally with his parents when he was about 10 years old.

The term Dreamers refers to some 750,000 immigrants brought to the country illegally as children, who have been afforded some protection from deportation under an Obama-era program called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

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Under U.S. law, deportation cases must be heard by immigration courts, which are administered by the Department of Justice. But Ramirez's attorneys say he is entitled to challenge the circumstances of his arrest in federal court.

The judge noted in his report that Ramirez's claims relate to Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers' conduct during his arrest and detention, before deportation proceedings were initiated.

Donohue did not weigh in on the merits of the case, but recommended that the case proceed on an expedited schedule, with Ramirez remaining in custody pending court action. The report was not a final ruling and the judge required that objections to its recommendations be filed by March 28.

Ramirez's legal team will file an objection to the judge's recommendation that he remain in detention, one of his attorneys, Theodore Boutrous, a partner at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, said in an emailed statement. "Daniel has already been wrongfully detained for too long."

The Department of Justice said in a statement it was reviewing the judge's report and recommendation and would respond to the court by March 28.

Ramirez, who turned 24 last week, was detained in February by immigration officers who went to his house to arrest his father. They alleged Ramirez had gang ties and should be deported. Ramirez's lawyers have denied their client has any gang involvement or criminal record, and called his arrest unconstitutional.

The case is being closely watched by other Dreamers who worry that they could be swept up in more aggressive immigration enforcement under President Donald Trump.

Immigration enforcement guidelines released last month left in place protections for childhood arrivals. Trump has said the issue is "very difficult" for him.

(additional reporting by Dan Levine; Editing by Richard Chang)

 
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