Lawyers for a 22-year-old “Dreamer” named Daniela Vargas, whose parents brought her to the United States from Argentina when she was just seven years old, say she faces deportation without a hearing after Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detained her Wednesday morning.
Her arrest came just after she addressed an immigrant rights news conference in Jackson, Mississippi—and on the heels of remarks by President Donald Trump that supposedly indicated a softened stance on people like Vargas, undocumented immigrants who entered the country illegally as children.
Vargas is currently being held without bond at the LaSalle Detention Facility in Jena, Louisiana, according to her attorneys, who filed a stay of removal Friday. The Clarion-Ledger reports that “[i]f the stay is denied, Vargas could be deported to Argentina in two to three weeks.”
CNN reported Friday morning: “Her attorneys are working to prepare a package with personal statements about Vargas from people who know her, in hopes of it landing in sympathetic hands that will grant her a trial instead of immediate deportation.”
Vargas released a statement through her lawyers on Thursday evening:
Vargas had applied for renewal of her expired DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) status before being detained on Wednesday. But Abby Peterson, one of her lawyers, told the Jackson Free Press that it “appears that immigration officers are not taking her application into consideration.”
The Free Press further reported:
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Writing Thursday at The Nation, Julianne Hing put Vargas’ detention and potential deportation in the context of Trump’s immigration crackdown.
“When Obama was in the White House, the safest place for young undocumented immigrants like Vargas was in the public eye,” Hing wrote. “Declaring one’s immigration status provided a kind of political protection from being seized by immigration agents. The federal government was sensitive to being publicly shamed for pursuing the ‘wrong’ undocumented immigrants for removal.”
“Those like Ms. Vargas just want a better life for themselves and their families and are true believers in the American dream—they should not be pushed further into the shadows.” —U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson, Mississippi
“What Vargas’s detention shows is that those days are over,” she continued. “The Trump administration is upending the unspoken norms of how the federal government will deal with undocumented immigrants. The once-safe places do not exist as such anymore. Those who were once the most sympathetic immigrants now join millions of other undocumented immigrants as the new targets.”
One rally was taking place Friday afternoon at the Mississippi state capitol building calling for Vargas’ release, while another was planned for later in the day outside the Department of Homeland Security in Washington, D.C.
A petition is currently circulating demanding the same.
“Our country must have immigration policies that are constitutional and remain true to our values,” U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) said in a statement. “Ms. Vargas appears to have committed no crime and was only speaking out on behalf of her family, who is threatened by this President’s misguided immigration agenda. ICE’s assertion that her detention is ‘routine’ is absurd and seems anything but. Clearly, ICE resources used in this case would have been better utilized to find and detain dangerous criminals and get them off our streets.”
“As a DACA recipient she should be allowed to stay here,” Thompson said. “Those like Ms. Vargas just want a better life for themselves and their families and are true believers in the American dream—they should not be pushed further into the shadows.”
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