Right after Daniela Vargas, 22, spoke at a news conference in Jackson, Mississippi, officers of Immigration and Customs Enforcement took her into custody. The presser was organized by the Mississippi Immigrants Rights Alliance, along with local churches and attorneys, as a means to protest President Trump’s immigration and border policies.
After Vargas was driven away by car after the press conference, their vehicle was stopped by ICE officers. She was immediately detained and taken into custody. Her friend was released.
Last month, ICE officers arrested Vargas’ brother and father at the home. Because she hid herself in a closet, Vargas initially escaped detection. However, when she was discovered, she was handcuffed and later released.
On February 15, ICE arrested 55 illegal immigrants working at local restaurants in Jackson.
Vargas is a native of Argentina. Her family brought her to the United States when she was seven years old, which means that Barack Obama’s Deferred action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy applies to her. Under the rules, those like Vargas who are covered by DACA because they entered the country as minors must reapply for temporary residence in the US every two years. In Vargas’ case, DACA is expired. However, she has an application pending.
Her attorney claimed that she told ICE that Vargas has a pending DACA case. ICE told the attorney that Vargas is a “visa overstay,” and was thus detained. No bond is set in her case while she is in ICE custody. Because Vargas entered the country on a visa waiver program, she can be processed and deported without a hearing.
Once Vargas’ brother and father were arrested, Vargas went into hiding. She re-surfaced long enough to appear at the news conference. To the crowd at the gathering, she said that while her father and brother will probably be deported, she remains hopeful that she can stay. "Today, my father and brother await deportation while I continue to fight this battle as a DREAMer to help contribute to this country, which I feel is very much my country," she said.
DREAMers refers to those who would qualify under the proposed legislation known as the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act, which has not yet become law. A main provision of it would provide permanent residency status to young undocumented immigrants.
Vargas had planned to move away from Mississippi with her mother, who is divorced from Daniela's father and lives in Louisian. She and her family came to the US from their native city, Cordoba, in southern Argentina in 2001. They had been granted a 90-day visa, but overstayed. Daniela later graduated from Mississippi State University.
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