Jose Antonio Vargas was detained in McAllen, Texas today, days after speculating that he may be stuck in the border town. On Friday, Vargas wrote an essay for Politico, where he described his visit to a children’s shelter for Central American refugees. The Pulitzer-prize winning journalist has traveled extensively since he outed himself as an undocumented immigrant, and did not expect this trip to be any different.
When my friend Mony Ruiz-Velasco, an immigration lawyer who used to work in the area, saw on my Facebook page that I was in McAllen, she texted me: “I am so glad you are visiting the kids near the border. But how will you get through the checkpoint on your way back?” A curious question, I thought, and one I dismissed.
His visibility as “the most privileged undocumented immigrant” in the country afforded him certain protections up until this point. Despite his high-profile writing, and film, which aired on CNN recently, he was not immune to the stringent checks in the border town.
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.
His last tweet before being detained:
— Jose Antonio Vargas (@joseiswriting) July 15, 2014
United We Dream, an organization that Vargas’ organization Define American had been working with, has been livestreaming the ordeal. Supporters and the media were warned that if they crossed the street towards the border patrol station, they too would also be arrested.
Ryan Eller, campaign director for Define American, said in a press conference: “We are calling on President Obama and Secretary Johnson to exercise prosecutorial discretion and immediately release Jose Antonio Vargas.”
MediabistroTV recently sat down with Vargas to talk about his film Documented airing on CNN and more. Check out the interview below:
Update: Vargas has been release by boarder patrol. “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,” Vargas said in a statement.