Des Moines Police took no part in ‘Dreamer’ arrest that sparked area outrage
By Jack Mayne
The arrest last week in Des Moines of a 23-year-old Mexican man brought as a child illegally into the United States but who was given a “Dreamer” work permit under the Obama administration was not assisted by Des Moines Police, the City Council was told Thursday (Feb. 15) by Chief George Delgado.
Since the arrest, the Seattle Times reports that Daniel Ramirez Medina was detained and a petition filed that challenges the immigration detention and seeks his release. His attorneys say he was detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents conducting an action at his father’s house.
But the newspaper said ICE countered in an email Tuesday (Feb. 14) night that Medina — whom they identify as “Mr. Ramirez” — was a “self-admitted gang member” encountered during the arrest of a felon who had previously been deported.
Medina is in custody at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma “to await the outcome of removal proceedings,” said ICE Northwest spokeswoman Rose Richeson.
Des Moines Police not involved
Assistant Des Moines City Manager Dan Brewer said that on Feb. 10, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents did arrest Medina in Des Moines.
Police Chief George Delgado told the City Council that a surveillance was at the address where Medina was arrested and that ICE would “not require our assistance and such a notification is pretty common – we get them up to three or four times a month from any number of agencies, federal, state and local” and “no Des Moines police personnel were at the location or assisted in that investigation or operation.”
Delgado said his department was not aware of an arrest until “the news broke.”
“We had not had contact with Daniel Ramirez Medina, we have no information on him within our city, contact-wise,” the chief said, despite ICE suggestions the youth was a gang member.
But the arrest brought a lot of notice to Des Moines.
“Since then we’ve been contacted by CNN, BBC and Citylab Latino from Washington D.C., KIRO-TV and, my favorite, KING 5,” Delgado said.
The chief said that since the event, the department has been asked about ICE.
“We will treat them, we will continue to treat them like any other agency partnership that we have,” Delgado said. “We have a policy in place on our role in community with immigrants. Our role as a police agency is to provide protection for all members of this community. We don’t ask for documentation, it is not our role, not our job. The person resides in our community or coming through out community, we will treat everybody fairly and accurately. That being said, if asked to offer assistance to ICE, we would offer them the same assistance we would any other agency.”
“Other than the numerous inquiries we have had, we have not done any more with it,” Delgado said.
Councilmember Melissa Musser asked if city police stopped and asked people about documentation and Delgado said, “No, that is none of our business.”
No notice required
The Des Moines chief said that federal agencies don’t have to tell the city they are in the community to enforce a federal law, but “as a courtesy they do tell us they are here – primarily for safety reasons for any operation that goes on in our city.”
If something “potentially happens” the courtesy notice allows his department to prepare “to go in and be prepared to help and know what we are going into.”
An outside agency could ask for and get Des Moines Police assistance for someone who happens to be undocumented but has a “violent history.”
It is not uncommon for other police agencies, local, state or federal to come into the community to enforce appropriate laws and sometimes Des Moines officers go into other communities for similar reasons and “we make that courtesy notification also.”
Delgado said that such federal actions in the community could increase fear in the city but “my message to my officers was to continue that service, continue to do the outreach….”
He said he wanted residents to know that “we are still here to protect them.”
Keiser expresses concern
State Sen. Karen Keiser of Des Moines released a statement Thursday (Feb. 16) on the Medina arrest.
“I am deeply concerned by the intrusive action taken by ICE agents to arrest a lawfully permitted resident in our community,” the 33rd District state lawmaker said. “In Washington, we have codified on a bipartisan basis opportunity and access to higher education for those who were brought into this country as children…
“This is because we value and stand in solidarity with immigrants in our community who are contributing to our state, not only economically, but in our civic institutions and neighborhood organizations.”
Video of Arrest
KING5 posted this video which shows the actual arrest of Medina by ICE agents in Des Moines. The video was shot on a cell phone by his 24-year-old brother, who was there as both his father and brother were taken into custody: