Twenty-two-year-old Daniela Vargas’ family moved to the U.S. from Argentina more than 15 years ago. She previously had protection from deportation under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, but when Immigration and Custom Enforcement agents arrived at her house on February 15th her documents hadn’t been updated. Due to the high cost of renewal, $495, her application had only been received on February 10th. Her father, a house-painter, was arrested that morning in his driveway ashe left for work, along with Vargas’ older brother, who worked as a contractor. Fearing she too would be detained, Vargas locked herself in the house as she called her mother sobbing. Eventually the ICE agents forced themselves in with a warrant, guns raised, and Vargas was handcuffed as they searched the house. On that occasion she was eventually released, just as local news reporters arrived on the scene.
However, shortly after speaking to the media about her family’s detention on Wednesday, Vargas was arrested by federal immigration authorities in Jackson, Mississippi. “It could be retaliation,” her attorney, Abby Peterson said to the The Huffington Post. “They had been reading about her in the news, they had seen her at this press conference … [maybe] they didn’t want to hear it anymore. Maybe I’m mistaken on that, but common sense would certainly imply that’s what happened.” Vargas does not have a criminal record, but has a few, minor traffic offenses.
The future of DACA — which grants temporary work authorization and deportation reprieves to young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children — is uncertain under President Trump. During the election campaign he pledged to end the Obama-era program and the protections it provides for over 750,000 undocumented young people. More recently he has said he wants to “work something out.” Still, Vargas is not the first DACA recipient to be detained by ICE. While some have been arrested and then released, others, like 22-year-old Jesus Alonso Arreola Robles, remain in detention. According to Vargas’ attorney, it didn’t make a difference when she told officers about her pending DACA case.
Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin of Illinois tweeted that it was “Disturbing that ICE may have followed her from an immigration press conference” and said he was in contact with DHS to get more information regarding Vargas’ case.
Read the full story at the The Huffington Post.