Daniel Ramirez Medina, 23, was arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents on Friday, who later called him a self-admitted gang member. Mendoza, in a statement issued by attorney Mark Rosenbaum, vehemently denied the charge. Rosenbaum said Mendoza "was repeatedly pressured" by ICE agents to "falsely admit affiliation" in a gang.
Medina immigrated to the United States with his family as a child, and was given a work permit during the administration of former President Barack Obama under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. He is thought to be the first member of a protected class of undocumented immigrants known as "Dreamers" to be arrested under the Trump administration, the news website seattlepi.com said Wednesday.
ICE said Medina has no criminal background, but was encountered during the arrest of a previously deported felon.
Another of Medina's lawyers, Ethan Dettmer, said Mendoza was given no reason for his arrest, except that he was not born in the United States. Court documents indicate Mendoza was twice approved to remain in the United States under the DACA program.
"We're sincerely hoping that this is a mistake and it's going to be rectified," Dettmer said. Medina has been in the Tacoma Northwest Detention Center since his arrest.
"President Trump's deportation force has struck our community and taken one of our own," Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., said. "It's unconscionable that Daniel, who trusted the government and registered under DACA, was picked up and sent to a detention center. Seattle stands with Daniel and we will not back down until he is free."
Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., called the arrest of Dreamers "unacceptable."
A hearing in federal court is scheduled for Friday.