More than two dozen protesters gathered Tuesday night on Tacoma’s Tideflats outside the Northwest Detention Center, where federal immigration authorities earlier brought a Seattle man who came to the U.S. from Mexico as a child.
The Northwest Detention Center Resistance, a Tacoma-based immigrant rights group, started the protest in support of Daniel Ramirez Medina, a 23-year-old Seattle father who is in the country under former President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
Wendy Pantoja of the resistance group said the group came to support Ramirez Medina because they believe his detention to be unjust and in violation of federal guidelines set for the arrests.
“All his life is here, he has his family here, he has his dreams here,” Pantoja said, referring to the United States.
“But now he’s here,” she added, gesturing toward the GEO Group-run for-profit detention center.
Ramirez Medina, whose lawyers say has no criminal convictions, was taken into custody after a federal raid to deport his father, who Immigrations and Customs Enforcement officials say is a “prior-deported felon.” Federal officials say Ramirez Medina admitted to being a gang member during an interrogation, something his lawyers say is untrue.
Ramirez Medina is believed to be the first person in the United States under the DACA program to be detained by ICE since Donald Trump became president.
Fellow protester Rolando Avila, 32, is in the same situation as Ramirez Medina was in before his arrest Friday. He, too, came to the U.S. as a small child as his parents migrated in 1989.
Avila told the protesters how their actions could have the largest effect, asking attendees to get more people involved, be loud, be persistent and use their wallets as a form of protest, too.
“It’s not business as usual if they want to pass these laws,” Avila said, referring to Trump’s executive orders regarding immigration. “I’m going to do all I can to obstruct.”
Vanna Sing of the Tacoma Healing Awareness Community told protesters they need to support one another because they share a common burden.
“This is a place where a lot of tears are shed and families are separated,” Sing said of the detention center.
Sing said her newly founded organization is intended to help foster community and support the Northwest Detention Center Resistance and other immigrant rights groups.
Pantoja, of the Northwest Detention Center Resistance, said it is an injustice that Ramirez Medina is being punished for an action his parents took for him as a small child. She stressed that the group will protest any further detentions at the Tideflats facility just as they have this one.
“We want to tell the Trump administration that we will not let them do this anymore,” she said.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.