Ramirez staying in ICE detention, for now

Daniel Ramirez’s legal team is following an unusual strategy. It’s keeping his case alive, but now it’s also keeping him locked up.

Here’s where we last left things with Ramirez: in ICE detention, while his legal team argues for his release in front of Magistrate Judge James Donohue. Donohue made his recommendations to Chief Judge Richard Martinez, and in those recommendations argued that Ramirez is not entitled to release at this time.

Ramirez’s lawyers filed an objection to that recommendation, and last Friday Martinez ruled against Ramirez and accepted Donohue’s recommendations related to that issue.

Ramirez’s lawyers are walking a very fine line: they are arguing in a “habeas corpus” pleading that his constitutional rights were violated when he was arrested by ICE agents despite his DACA status. But because federal law limits habeas corpus cases related to immigration proceedings and requires all challenges to immigration proceedings to go through an immigration court, they have stated that they are not challenging anything related to the immigration proceedings ICE initiated after they arrested, detained and interrogated him; they are only challenging the initial arrest and detention.

But what both Donohue and Martinez ruled is that since ICE’s ongoing immigration removal proceedings aren’t being challenged, they are fully within their rights to detain him while the proceedings move forward. In his ruling, Martinez quotes Supreme Curt precedent:

Irregularities on the part of the Government official prior to, or in connection with, the arrest would not necessarily invalidate later proceedings in all respects conformable to law. “A writ of habeas corpus is not like an action to recover damages for an unlawful arrest or commitment, but its object is to ascertain whether the prisoner can lawfully be detained in custody; and if sufficient ground for his detention by the government is shown, he is not to be discharged for defects in the original arrest or commitment.”

Ramirez’s case is still alive; it’s a fairly strong one, and it’s important precedent for every DACA recipient who lives in fear of ICE swooping in and arresting them (exactly what DACA is intended to prevent). But the cost of keeping the case alive is that he will remain detained while it plays out.

He does have one more chance though: he is allowed a bond hearing in immigration court. His lawyers have declined to schedule one so far, for fear that he will run afoul of claims that he is trying the same case in more than one court. But Martinez reiterated the same instruction to the government that Donohue had previously: Ramirez can get an expedited bond hearing if he requests one. If he goes that route, it will pose another interesting legal test: now that a court has established that his habeas corpus case is truly independent of the immigration proceeding, can both proceed simultaneously and independently? The chances are better that he won’t run afoul of the law.

If Ramirez does get a bond hearing this week, then he might be out of detention quickly while his immigration removal proceedings are pending. In the meantime, the next step belongs to Martinez: he is expected to issue his final ruling on Donohue’s recommendations as soon as March 31.