News


Jose Vargas detained by border patrol in Texas, released

After a day of anxiety over his fate, border security agents in McAllen, Texas have released one of America's most prominent undocumented immigrants, Pulitzer-prize winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas, a Mountain View High School graduate.

Vargas was released at about 4 p.m. Tuesday, quelling fears that he would be deported or detained for a lengthy period until a court hearing. He was detained at around 6 a.m. trying to fly to L.A. from the McAllen airport.

"I've been released by Border Patrol," Vargas said in a statement. "I want to thank everyone who stands by me and the undocumented immigrants of south Texas and across the country. Our daily lives are filled with fear in simple acts such as getting on an airplane to go home to our family.

With Congress failing to act on immigration reform, and President Obama weighing his options on executive action, the critical question remains: how do we define American?"

Vargas had traveled to the Texas border town to humanize the stories of children from Central America being detained at the border in large numbers, saying he was angered that the children were called "illegal" in some media coverage.

"I wanted to help change the narrative of the conversation and, with a camera crew, share stories from the shelter and its volunteers," Vargas wrote in an article for Politico on Friday. "The visit to the shelter was intense and sobering, watching small kids fight for their lives with nothing more than their spirits."

Vargas said he did not realize the danger he was in just by going to the Texas town, where immigrants are kept from crossing into the rest of the U.S. at various checkpoints.

"I didn't know what I was getting myself into and knew nothing about life as undocumented in a border town in Texas, where checkpoints and border patrol agents are parts of everyday life," Vargas wrote on Friday. "I've been flying everywhere across the country — what would make this trip different?"

Vargas reportedly consulted with attorneys before heading to the airport in McAllen on July 15 with nothing but his Philippines passport as identification. Vargas has been taking some risk of being detained at U.S. airports for years, but McAllen is different in that meeting a border patrol agent is guaranteed.

"About to go through security at McAllen Airport. I don't know what's going to happen," Vargas tweeted at 6 a.m. Tuesday. It was immediately followed by a picture of his Philippines passport and pocket-sized U.S. Constitution before the tweets stopped because he was detained.

"Our undocumented community along the border is trapped within its own country, unable to leave and surrounded by checkpoints," said Cristina Jimenez, Managing Director of United We Dream, one of the organizations that set up an event about the detained children that Vargas attended in McAllen. "It's immoral that people aren't free to move around the country they know as home because of a system that seeks to criminalize them."

Immigrant advocates said that officials could choose to not take action against Vargas and that he does not fit the profile of someone that would be high priority for deportation. In the documentary Vargas created about his own story -- "Undocumented" -- Vargas is shown calling Immigration officials to ask them what they plan to do with him, and he receives no real response.

Vargas was not immediately available for comment about his detention.

Vargas has traveled to 40 U.S. states in his efforts to change the discussion about immigration in the U.S. He is the founder of the nonprofit Define American. He first revealed his situation in an article for the New York Times magazine, and told his story of being brought to the U.S. as a child with fake documents, discovering his true immigration status at age 16, and then working at several of the nation's top newspapers.

Comments

Posted by RAFAEL, a resident of another community
on Jul 15, 2014 at 12:28 pm

I RESPECT MR.VARGAS TO SPEAK FREELY BECAUSE THIS IS U.S.A.,BUT REMEMBER, AN ILEGAL IS THE PERSON THAT IS NOT LEGAL .(LIKE OR NOT).
THIS ACTUAL SITUATION HAS TWO FACES.
ONE IS HUMANITARIAN ,THE OTHER CONSTITUTIONAL.
NOBODY IS EXEMPT TO VIOLATE A LAW.
MY QUESTION....WHERE IS THE RESPONSABILITY OF THOSE KIDS PARENTS?.
WHERE IS THE RESPONSABILITY OF THE CENTRAL AMERICAN COUNTRIES?.
THIS IS A SAD SITUATION.


Posted by Oh No!, a resident of Shoreline West
on Jul 15, 2014 at 12:32 pm

It's so sad to see Jose Vargas in this position. He could have quietly continued to follow his trajectory as an accomplished journalist, but instead he courageously "came out" publicly about his immigration status and shone a bright light on the situation of the many children who were brought to this country without documentation. I hope the lawyers are able to find a legal way to allow him to stay here in his home country. Good Luck Jose.


Posted by mn_test347, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 15, 2014 at 12:44 pm

mn_test347 is a registered user.

"watching small kids fight for their lives with nothing more than their spirits"

Too bad their parents weren't there to help them.

"It's immoral that people aren't free to move around the country they know as home..."

It's immoral to send your children alone to an illegal, difficult life.


Posted by Maher, a resident of Martens-Carmelita
on Jul 15, 2014 at 6:17 pm

Maher is a registered user.

What a hostile vicious country we are devolving into in the name of "law" or "democracy" vav overseas issues. Compassion, and mutual caring are now consider silly and arcane ways to go,even more than in the past.

The violent mindset is the norm now ... ie 320M guns in private arsenals in a country of 325M people? Yeh! that's just what we need and that's what we have.

Our hostility vav immigrants IS THE NORM since the early/mid 1800's when my Irish family were greeted with "NO IRISH NEED APPLY" vav jobs or housing. We were the 1st major wave of immigrants and the USA's closed door mindset was alive and well. We Irish were blamed for the economic depression which actually started before the Irish wave hit these shores, as is true for the massive number of Latin American immigrants today. Immigrants routinely are the scapegoats for all sorts of ills ... it's the default stance for insecure people who are already here.
And Oh Yes! there's always a "good reason" for the hostility and usually "laws" are designed or found to support the hostility.

It's a long and well-honored tradition. So why should we change now?


Posted by MVresident, a resident of Monta Loma
on Jul 15, 2014 at 8:33 pm

MVresident is a registered user.

Its too bad that Immigration did not put Vargas on the next flight to the Philippines in an orange jumpsuit and chains. If he wanted to come back to the USA then he could apply to do so legally like so many other immigrants have done here in the Silicon Valley. Let's not reward someone whose first act is a criminal one of entering without a valid visa. Immigration is beneficial and I'm all for it when done legally but illegals should always be deported when caught.


Posted by Mcbutters, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 16, 2014 at 10:12 am

Mcbutters is a registered user.

Deport him.

Why should he and others get a free pass, just because people feel sorry for him/them?
It's not fair to the people who are and have gone through the proper channels to become US citizens.

Send him back and have him go through the naturalization process, and instead of fighting for immigration reform. He should do the right thing and set an example of how to become a US citizen, the way the law intended.


Posted by mn_test347, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 16, 2014 at 1:03 pm

mn_test347 is a registered user.

@Maher - this is not about you.


Posted by MyOpinion, a resident of Sylvan Park
on Jul 16, 2014 at 2:31 pm

MyOpinion is a registered user.

Deporting a Pulitzer prize winning journalist who grew up in the US (legally or illegally) is a waste of money (taxpayers) and talent (his).

How about this, we give a green card to all Pulitzer prize winning undocumented individuals if they have no criminal record.



Posted by Maher, a resident of Martens-Carmelita
on Jul 16, 2014 at 2:46 pm

Maher is a registered user.

test347... Your being obtuse is not a good way to deny validity to my words. My family story is still being told today for immigrants facing your hostility. It's a continuum fella' and you're part of the problem... not part of the solution.

You want to pretend hostility toward immigrants is caused by the immigrants. That's a lie. Your hostility is yours and it is caused by your monkey see monkey do upbringing and the long traditions behind it.

So you are proof of how relevant my story is.


Posted by USA, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 16, 2014 at 6:49 pm

USA is a registered user.

"How about this, we give a green card to all Pulitzer prize winning undocumented individuals if they have no criminal record."

What part of "illegal" do you not understand? If you break a law, you have committed a crime. You are a criminal.

Vargas's family entered the country illegally.
He remains here illegally.
He has falsified documents which is illegal.
He has taken jobs illegally.
He drives without a license which is illegal.

Vargas is a criminal. Winning a prize does not change that.


Posted by USA, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 16, 2014 at 7:02 pm

USA is a registered user.

"... working at several of the nation's top newspapers."

Which newspapers would that be? Why yes, our very own Mountain View Voice.

That raises some questions. Did the MV Voice hire him knowing he was illegal which would be a crime? Or, did Vargas lie to the MV Voice editor? Did he sign his name to an I9 and submit it which is certainly a crime?


Posted by USA, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 16, 2014 at 7:06 pm

USA is a registered user.

"Our undocumented community along the border is trapped within its own country, unable to leave and surrounded by checkpoints," said Cristina Jimenez

Yet another lie from people for whom lying is a lifestyle. They are free to leave anytime and are encouraged to do so. The US taxpayers even provide free transportation.


Posted by CopperC, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jul 16, 2014 at 9:58 pm

CopperC is a registered user.

Publicity hound. Will buy five copies of this for his mother.


Posted by Otto Maddox, a resident of Monta Loma
on Jul 20, 2014 at 7:24 am

Otto Maddox is a registered user.

Hmm.. so we should ignore laws just because we don't agree with them?

Well I don't agree with most of our country's gun laws. Can I just ignore those? Can I ignore them if I win a Pulitzer prize?

Of course not.

I am actually in favor of immigration. I think it is part of what makes this country so great.

If you disagree with the laws of our country the process is to tell your elected representatives. If enough people agree with you something will be done about it.

In the end I believe this was nothing more than a publicity stunt for Mr. Vargas. The publicity from his initial "outing" has died. Once you get a taste of fame it's a hard thing to give up.

He should be deported. Then he can apply to come back just like every other legal immigrant.


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