A Seattle man arrested by immigration agents last week despite his participation in a federal program to protect those brought to the U.S. illegally could have ties to a Fresno gang – apparently because of a tattoo.
Daniel Ramirez, 23, was taken into custody at his father’s home during a series of raids that led to the arrest of 680 people. He has no criminal record, and officers said they were targeting his father, a “prior-deported felon,” initially.
A brief filed Feb. 16 on Ramirez’s behalf lays out a potential connection to Fresno.
Shortly after his arrest, ICE agents interrogated Ramirez about possible gang ties, including the meaning of a tattoo on his forearm. An agent told Ramirez that if he was from Fresno, he was “definitely a gang member” and that his tattoo pointed to an affiliation with the Bulldogs gang, according to the brief. Ramirez denied that the tattoo — a nautical star with the words “La Paz-BCS” — was a gang tattoo, and said he got it because he liked the way it looked.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security in its own briefing did not mention Fresno by name. Instead, the federal government claims Ramirez admitted to a past gang affiliation when asked about his tattoo, telling officers he “fled California to escape from the gangs.” The department also said Ramirez admitted to an affiliation with a Washington state gang.
Since his arrest, Ramirez has been thrust into a national debate over the immigration priorities of President Donald Trump. Some saw his detention as the opening salvo in an attack on former President Barack Obama's DACA program, while federal authorities suggested it was simply a routine exercise of their authority.
Ramirez was brought to the United States from Mexico at the age of 7 and has been protected under Obama’s immigration order since 2014, according to the briefing filed on his behalf. DACA recipients, sometimes known as Dreamers, live in the U.S. temporarily and are protected from deportation.
Ramirez remains at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma after a judge declined to immediately release him.