On Tuesday, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers arrested 23-year-old Daniel Ramirez Medina, a recipient of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), at his family's Seattle home.DACA is designed to protect the children brought to the U.S. by their undocumented parents from deportation. Following his arrest, ICE released a statement calling Ramirez "a gang member," their justification for targeting him for arrest.
Ramirez Medina does not have a criminal record, according to his lawyers. They say he was coerced by ICE agents into a false confession. "While in custody, he was repeatedly pressured by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents to falsely admit affiliation," Ethan Dettmer, an attorney representing Ramirez, told Reuters. "The statement issued tonight by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is not accurate.”
ICE did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
This isn't the first time that allegations of coercion and misrepresentation have come up against ICE. Here are just a few cases where ICE has been accused of questionable conduct in the past few years:
Using coercion to gain access to people's homes
In August last year, the Southern Poverty Law Center filed a lawsuit against ICE to try to get the agency to release records about raids in January that resulted in more than 100 Central American people being arrested and detained. ICE, the case alleges, had lied in order to gain access to people's homes, entering them without warrants. From the lawsuit:
These raids have raised serious concerns about potential constitutional violations. Upon information and belief, in several instances, ICE agents entered homes without obtaining lawful and voluntary consent during these immigration raids. In these cases, ICE agents allegedly used deception to gain entry into the homes, stating that they were police officers looking for a criminal suspect and showing residents a photo of an African American man. In other instances, ICE agents allegedly stated that they were only taking the immigrants into custody for a short time to examine the women’s electronic ankle shackles. Upon information and belief, the ICE agents did not have warrants to conduct these raids. The agents did not show residents copies of warrants, which are required to enter a home without valid consent, regardless of a person’s immigration status. When asked for copies of warrants or orders to enter a home, ICE agents ignored the requests, threatened residents, or ordered them to “be quiet.”
Asked about the lawsuit, ICE told Fox News the agency does not comment on pending litigation.
Impersonating family members
In the same month as the raids on Central American families last year, Reynold Garcia was arrested after being lured out of a church by ICE agents who allegedly impersonated local police who sent text messages from his cousin's phone. WBEZ spoke to a friend of Garcia's who was present when he was arrested:
“The very last moment, you know, is when we realized what was happening,” Gutierrez recalled. “I go, ‘No, no no… this is not police. This is ICE.’ But it was too late, because he was already inside the car.” …
Even more shocking was their tactic to persuade Garcia to leave the church. Coria said the text messages about the car accident earlier that morning weren’t sent by him at all — they were sent by ICE agents who had stopped Coria en route to church services. The officers, said Coria, used his phone and texted Garcia about a fictional car accident to trick him into meeting with them.
An ICE spokesperson, Gail Montenegro, told Vice News that the Garcia was targeted because he has re-entered the U.S. after having been deported before, but declined to comment on the methods used by ICE agents.
Arresting children on their way to school, despite ICE policy
In January 2016, Yefri Soto-Hernandez was waiting for the bus to school in Charlotte, NC, when he was arrested by ICE agents. He was one of six students arrested in the state around that time, despite internal ICE guidelines that state that officers will not target immigrants at schools or on their way to schools.
At a public hearing in July last year he gave his account of his arrest: “They were roaming the area. I didn’t know who it was and I didn’t want to get close to the car,” said Sorto-Hernandez, 19. “Another student was with me and they told him to get on the bus. I didn’t know what was happening. They just asked me who I was.”
Asked about the case, ICE's southern regional communications director, Bryan Cox, told CityLab that no approvals had been issued for operations in "sensitive locations" like schools or churches.
As the Trump administration's anti-immigrant orders continue to threaten millions of people nationwide, scrutinizing ICE tactics for arrests and building cases is still crucial. Some 680 people were arrested in a five-day period last week in major cities around the country–more than double the number of people usually arrested by ICE in an average week.