A 22-year-old Argentinian immigrant was arrested by ICE officials after calling a press conference to talk about her hears of being deported on Wednesday.
Daniela Vargas, who has been in Mississippi since she was 7 years old, was protected by the DACA act of the Obama administration, since she has been in school and working in the United States, and brought without her consent as a child. However, Vargas says she was not able to collect the $495 it costs to renew DACA paperwork this year, and thus was dropped from the program, making her vulnerable to arrest.
Vargas’ father and brother were arrested last month as a part of the nation-wide ICE raids. They were arrested outside of their home.
An attorney for Vargas called the press conference to try and draw national attention to the allegations that ICE is now rounding up all illegal immigrants, not just ones who have violent records. Vargas has no police record. Attorneys, church groups and the Mississippi Immigrants Rights Alliance helped to gather the conference.
The Wall Street Journal has more:
A 22-year-old illegal immigrant whose protection under an Obama administration program had lapsed was detained by immigration officials Wednesday after voicing her fear of deportation at a news conference.
Daniela Vargas, who came to the U.S. from Argentina when she was 7 years old, was detained by agents of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement as she and a friend drove away from the news conference in Jackson, Miss., said her lawyer, Abigail Peterson.
The news conference was organized by attorneys, church groups and the Mississippi Immigrants Rights Alliance to bring attention to recent immigration raids in the region, said Patricia Ice, an attorney with the immigrant-rights group.
ICE enforcement actions under the Trump administration have stoked fears in immigrant communities after large numbers of coordinated arrests across the country in recent weeks.
Agency officials have said they are targeting undocumented immigrants convicted of crimes including assault, murder and drug trafficking. But the agency also acknowledged picking up some immigrants they encountered during those raids who have violated federal immigration law, but not committed other crimes.
Ms. Vargas’s father and brother were detained by immigration officials who arrested them outside the family home last month. But Ms. Vargas herself wasn’t arrested at the time, her lawyer said.
Thomas Byrd, a spokesman for ICE, said in a statement provided to The Wall Street Journal by Ms. Vargas’s attorney that Ms. Vargas was taken into custody “during a targeted immigration enforcement action.” The statement said ICE conducts “routine targeted enforcement operations” every day and “does not conduct sweeps or raids that target aliens indiscriminately.”
ICE officials declined to comment.
Ms. Peterson said she had been working with Ms. Vargas on reapplying for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, a program that protects young undocumented adults brought to the U.S. illegally as children from deportation and gives them work authorization.
Since DACA was introduced in 2012, about 750,000 people have benefited from the program. President Donald Trump during his campaign said he would rescind the program, but has since said he would seek a more favorable solution for its beneficiaries, who are known as “Dreamers.”
The case of another detained DACA recipient is being watched closely as an early test of how the Trump administration will treat program beneficiaries.
The arrest of Ms. Vargas indicates that the Trump administration is targeting more than just violent criminals, Ms. Peterson said. Ms. Vargas had attended school and was working to support her family, her lawyer said.
She had let her DACA status lapse because she had trouble paying the $495 renewal fee, her lawyer said.
“We no longer have a priority system,” Ms. Peterson said. “I don’t think it is accurate to say that our priority is to deport criminal aliens, when quite clearly it is their priority to deport whomever they can get hold of, and it is discouraging to think that, because the people who are the most easily to get a hold of are the most law-abiding people, such as Daniela.”
U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, a Democrat, tweeted that he had contacted the Department of Homeland Security about the case.
“Disturbing that ICE may have followed her from an immigration press conference,” he wrote.
Agents detained Ms. Vargas’s father, Daniel Vargas, 55, and her brother, Alan Vargas, 26, outside their Jackson home on Feb. 15. ICE agents also encountered Ms. Vargas at that time, but didn’t take her into custody when she told them she had DACA protection, though her status was pending at the time.