United States District Court, W.D. Washington
ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR PRELIMINARY
RICARDO S. MARTINEZ CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter comes before the Court on Plaintiff's Motion for
Preliminary Injunction. Dkt. #122. The Court held oral
argument on May 1, 2018, after which the Court directed the
parties to submit additional briefing. Dkt. #128. The parties
have since submitted that briefing. Dkts. #130 and #131.
Plaintiff now seeks an Order enjoining Defendants from
terminating his DACA status and work authorization pending
adjudication on the merits of his case, and enjoining
Defendant USCIS from continuing to accuse him of being a gang
member in any further proceedings. Dkt. #130. Defendants
oppose the motion, arguing that this Court lacks authority to
hear and/or grant Plaintiff's request for new relief, and
that Plaintiff's request goes too far beyond simply
preserving the status quo. Dkt. #131. For the reasons
discussed herein, the Court disagrees with Defendants and
GRANTS Plaintiff's motion.
Plaintiff Daniel Ramirez Medina
Daniel Ramirez Medina, is 25 years old, and the father of an
American-born son. Dkt. #78, Ex. O at ¶ ¶ 2 and 8.
Mr. Ramirez was brought to this country from Mexico in or
around 2003, when he was approximately 10 years old.
Id. at ¶ 2. Mr. Ramirez alleges that he moved
from California to Washington to obtain more lucrative
employment to better support his son. Id. at ¶ 10.
2013, Mr. Ramirez first applied for deferred action and work
authorization pursuant to the government's
“Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals”
(“DACA”) policy. Id. at 3. As part of
this process, Mr. Ramirez provided the government with his
birth certificate, school records, and information about
where he lived, and was required to attend a biometrics
appointment so that United States Citizenship and Immigration
Services (“USCIS”) could take his fingerprints
and photographs. Dkt. #78, Ex. O at ¶ 3. Mr. Ramirez was
granted deferred action and work authorization in 2014.
Id. at ¶ 6.
2016, Mr. Ramirez reapplied for DACA status, and again was
granted deferred action and work authorization.
Id.at ¶ 9. As part of this process, Mr. Ramirez
received an approval notice (the “2016 DACA Approval
Notice”) informing him that his request for deferred
action had been granted. Id. The 2016 DACA Approval
Notice provided that “[u]nless terminated, this
decision to defer removal action will remain in effect for 2
years” and is valid until May 4, 2018. Dkt. #78, Ex. G.
The 2016 DACA Approval Notice also informed Mr. Ramirez that
his deferred action could be terminated if he engaged in
“[s]ubsequent criminal activity.” Id.
February 10, 2017, at approximately 9:00 a.m., a team of
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”)
agents arrested Mr. Ramirez's father outside of the
apartment where Mr. Ramirez, his father, and his brother were
then living. Dkt. #78, Ex. O at ¶ 14. ICE agents entered
the apartment. Id. The agents found Mr. Ramirez
asleep, woke him up, and began to question him. Id.
at ¶ 15. Mr. Ramirez provided the agents with his name
and birthdate, and told them that he was born in Mexico. Mr.
Ramirez was then placed in handcuffs. Id.
to Mr. Ramirez, he told the ICE agents repeatedly that he had
a legal work permit, but the ICE agents refused to release
him. Id. at ¶ 17. Mr. Ramirez's father also
repeatedly informed the ICE agents that Mr. Ramirez had a
legal work permit, and questioned why he was being detained.
Dkt. #78 at ¶ 46.
Ramirez was then transported to an ICE holding facility in
Tukwila, Washington. Id. at ¶ 47. At the
holding facility, the ICE agents confiscated Mr.
Ramirez's work permit. Id. at ¶ 48. That
permit was marked with a “C33” designation, which
identified Mr. Ramirez as a DACA recipient with work
authorization. Dkt. #78, Ex. F at 112. The ICE agents also
fingerprinted Mr. Ramirez and used this information to access
his records, which revealed that Mr. Ramirez has no criminal
history, had twice been granted DACA status, and possessed
valid employment authorization through May 4, 2018. Dkt. #78
at ¶ 49. Defendants refused to release Mr. Ramirez even
after they confirmed his DACA status. Id. at ¶
50. Defendants subsequently cited Mr. Ramirez's receipt
of DACA as evidence of his “illegal” status in
this country. Id., Ex. H at 3.
to Mr. Ramirez, the ICE agents began to interrogate him,
asking him numerous times whether he was in a gang, which he
denied, and whether he had ever known anyone who was a gang
member. Dkt. #78 at ¶ 51. Mr. Ramirez told the agents
that although that he knew students who had attended middle
school and high school with him who were in gangs, he was not
gang affiliated and never had been. Id. The ICE
agents also asked Mr. Ramirez about the tattoo on his forearm
(which consisted of the words “La Paz-BCS” and a
nautical star). Id.at ¶ 52. Mr. Ramirez got the
tattoo when he was 18 years old. La Paz is Mr. Ramirez's
birthplace, and “BCS” stands for Baja California
Sur, the region in which La Paz is located. Id. The
agents apparently insisted to Mr. Ramirez that it was a gang
tattoo, which he also denied. Id.at 53.
to being transferred to the Northwest Detention Center, the
ICE agents asked Mr. Ramirez if there were any gangs with
which he would like to avoid being placed for his safety.
Id. at ¶ 54. Mr. Ramirez again stated that he
had no gang affiliation and would not have problems being
placed with anyone. Dkt. #78 at ¶ 54. Upon continued
questioning, Mr. Ramirez ultimately indicated that if he had
to be placed with any group, he would prefer “the
Paisas.” Id. Mr. Ramirez understands the
colloquial use of “Paisas” to mean Mexicans, and
was attempting to communicate that if given the option, he
would prefer to be placed with other Mexicans. Id.
Ramirez was then transferred to Northwest Detention Center,
where he remained in custody for the next 47 days.
Id. at ¶ 55. While at the Detention Center,
Defendants classified Mr. Ramirez as a
“medium-high” security risk. Id. at
¶ 59. Mr. Ramirez requested that he be reclassified
because he was not, and never had been, gang affiliated.
Id. The request was denied. Id. During his
detention, Mr. Ramirez asserts that he feared for his safety
because many of the other inmates believed he was affiliated
with a gang due to the statements made after his arrest.
issued a Notice to Appear (“NTA”) on February 10,
2017. Dkt. #78, Ex. I. Defendants assert that Mr.
Ramirez's DACA status terminated on the day the NTA was
issued. Dkts. #78 at ¶ ¶ 60 and 61, Ex. J and #90
then sent Mr. Ramirez a Notice of Action (“NOA”)
dated February 17, 2017. Dkt. #78, Ex. J. The NOA states that
Mr. Ramirez's deferred action and employment
authorization terminated on the date the NTA was issued, and
provides that “[a]n appeal or motion to
reopen/reconsider this notice of action may not be
meantime, on February 13, 2017, Mr. Ramirez filed a Petition
for Habeas Corpus in this Court. Dkt. #1. This Court
ultimately declined to order the release of Mr. Ramirez and
directed him to file a motion in Immigration Court. Dkt. #69.
Pursuant to that Order, Mr. Ramirez filed such motion and
received a bond hearing in Immigration Court on March 28,
2017. Dkt. #78 at ¶ 78. Mr. Ramirez was released on bond
on March 29, 2017. Id., Ex. V.
April 25, 2017, Plaintiff filed a Second Amended Complaint in
this matter. Dkt. #78. In that Complaint, Plaintiff dropped
his habeas claim, and alleged claims against several federal
agencies, as well as individual officers. Id. The
claims against the individual Defendants have since been
dismissed. Dkt. #112. Against the remaining federal agencies,
collectively, Plaintiff asserted the following claims: 1)
violations of the Administrative Procedures Act
(“APA”) (Counts One and Two); and 2) violation of
the Fifth Amendment (Count 8). Dkt. #78 at ¶ ¶ 85-105
federal agency Defendants then filed a second motion to
dismiss, which this Court denied on November 8, 2017. Dkt.
#116. Defendants filed their Answer to the Second Amended
Complaint on December 6, 2017. Dkt. #119.
January 17, 2018, an Immigration Judge issued an Order of
Removal directing Plaintiff's return to Mexico.
See Dkt. #122-1, Ex. B at ¶ 2.
February 6, 2018, Plaintiff filed the instant motion. On the
day the government's opposition to the motion was due,
February 26, 2018, the United States District Court for the
Central District of California certified a class that
includes all DACA recipients “who, after January 19,
2017, have had or will have their DACA grant and employment
authorization revoked without notice or an opportunity to
respond, even though they have not been convicted of a
disqualifying criminal offense.” Inland
Empire-Immigrant Youth Collective v. Nielsen, 2018 WL
1061408, at *22 (C.D. Cal. Feb. 26, 2018) (“Inland
Empire II”). In the same order, the court
preliminarily enjoined “Defendants' decisions after
January 19, 2017 to terminate the DACA grants and EADs of
class members, without notice, a reasoned explanation, or an
opportunity to respond prior to termination, ” and
ordered that “Defendants immediately will restore those
individuals' DACA and EADs, subject to their original
date of expiration.” Inland Empire, 2018 WL
1061408 at *22. Mr. Ramirez is part of that class.
about April 3, 2018, Defendants issued a Notice to Mr.
Ramirez confirming the restoration of his DACA status and
work authorization, and stating that his DACA status and work
authorization had been extended from May 5, 2016, to May 5,
2018. Dkt. #126-1, Ex. B. On the same date, Defendant USCIS
issued a Notice of Intent to Terminate (“NOIT”)
Mr. Ramirez's DACA status, stating:
USCIS has reviewed your deferred action pursuant to
procedures outlined in the USCIS DACA Standard Operating
Procedures (SOP) regarding DACA termination. Specifically,
page 138 of the DACA SOP states:
If after consulting with ICE [U.S. Immigration and Customs
Enforcement], USCIS determines that exercising prosecutorial
discretion after removal has been deferred under DACA is not
consistent with the Department of Homeland Security's
enforcement priorities, and ICE does not plan to issue an
NTA, the officer should refer the case to HQSCOPS
[Headquarters Service Center Operations Directorate], through
the normal chain of command, to determine whether or not a
NOIT [Notice of lntent to Terminate] is appropriate. If it is
determined that the case warrants final termination, the
officer will issue DACA 603 - Termination Notice [Enforcement
Priority, Not Automatically Terminated] from the Appendix I.
USCIS has consulted with U.S. Immigration and Customs
Enforcement (ICE) and has determined that exercising
prosecutorial discretion to defer removal action in your case
is not consistent with DHS's enforcement priorities. As
you were already issued an NTA by ICE on February 14, 2017,
subsequent to your grant of DACA, further referral to ICE for
consideration of NTA issuance is unnecessary. DHS records
show that on January 17, 2018, an immigration judge ordered
you removed to Mexico.
Additionally, a review of Form 1-213, Record of Deportable
Alien, reveals that during an encounter with ICE on February
10, 2017, you admitted to previously associating with the
“Sureno's” criminal street gang in the state
of California, and to currently associating with the
“Paizas” criminal street gang in the state of
Washington. While DHS email records indicate that you
disputed in immigration court that you are a gang member and
that the immigration judge accepted this claim, you
nonetheless admitted in immigration court that gangs may
identify you as a rival gang member because of your tattoo
and you admitted that you withdrew your appeal from placement
in a Level 2 gang population at the Norwest Detention Center
because you wanted to remain with the gang population. Gang
association poses a significant public safety risk.
Therefore, it appears that you do not warrant favorable
consideration for DACA.
In light of your statements relating to gang association,
DHS' determination that you are an enforcement priority,
and the fact that ICE has informed USCIS that it is actively
pursuing your removal and you were recently ordered removed,
USCIS will not contemporaneously conclude that removal action
should continue to be deferred in your case. Accordingly,
USCIS has determined, in its unreviewable discretion, that
you do not warrant a favorable exercise of prosecutorial
Dkt. #126-1, Ex. C.
The DACA Program
15, 2012, former Secretary of Homeland Security Janet
Napolitano announced the creation of the DACA program. Dkt.
#78, Ex. C (“Napolitano Memo”). In her
memorandum, Ms. Napolitano provided DHS with guidelines
regarding the exercise of its prosecutorial discretion to
focus enforcement efforts away from low priority cases,
including individuals who came to the United States as
children. Id. The Napolitano Memo listed the
following five criteria that must be satisfied before an
individual can be considered for an exercise of prosecutorial
discretion under DACA:
●came to the United States under the age of sixteen;
●has continuously resided in the United States for a
least five years preceding the date of this memorandum and is
present in the United States on the date of this memorandum;
●is currently in school, has graduated from high
school, has obtained a general education development
certificate, or is an honorably discharged veteran of the