Jose Antonio Vargas Should Be Released

July 15, 2014

Adela de la Torre, [email protected], 213-400-7822

NILC Calls on DHS to Release Jose Antonio Vargas

Texas border arrest of well-known undocumented immigrant highlights “golden cage” border zone residents live in

WASHINGTON — Undocumented leader Jose Antonio Vargas has been detained by U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents at the McAllen International Airport near the Texas-Mexico border. He arrived in McAllen last week to help United We Dream and its local affiliate, Minority Affairs Council, highlight the dire situation refugee children who have fled increased violence in Central America are facing. Once in McAllen, Vargas became aware of border checkpoints and contacted the National Immigration Law Center (NILC) for guidance.

The following is a statement by Marielena HIncapié, NILC’s executive director:

“The photos of Jose Antonio being handcuffed by Customs and Border Protection agents is a reminder of what millions of aspiring Americans, like Jose, are at risk of. Fortunately, Jose Antonio is a prominent undocumented leader, but this is not the case for most people.

“A little-known fact about our nation’s 100-mile southwest border zone is that everyone’s rights are limited. Along the border — a thriving commercial area full of communities with deep and long ties to this land — ‘show me your papers’ isn’t a potential threat, it’s a way of life.”

“Like so many others, Jose Antonio Vargas wasn’t aware of this reality when he visited the thousands of children who are detained in the area. As a result, he has been detained, and the future of this Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist is in the hands of the Department of Homeland Security.

“We call upon DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson to exercise prosecutorial discretion and release Jose immediately. More importantly, we hope this unfortunate event shines a spotlight on the damage this 100-mile-wide rights-free zone causes for millions of border residents, who deserve more than to be treated as suspects in their own neighborhoods. Jose’s detention is another reminder that President Obama must make good on his promise to use his executive authority to allow immigrants such as Jose to obtain temporary status and be free from the fear of deportation. Jose’s contributions to our nation have been many and great. The president should go bold and big now.”

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