Argentine national Daniela Vargas was a participant in the DACA program — Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals. Vargas considers herself a “dreamer,” one of the hundreds of thousands of people that would have been affected by Obama’s Dream Act bill had it been passed a vote in congress. DACA was the program the Obama administration got to put into place in 2012 with the aim of granting undocumented immigrants who came to the United States before their 16th birthday a two-year work authorization permit and enough time to find a legal pathway to residency or citizenship.
In 2001 at the age of 7 Vargas moved along with her family from Cordoba, Argentina to Jackson, Mississippi, and for the last 15 years she has considered the southern city home. “I feel like I am American”, she told Huffington Post. Her previous permit expired at the end of November, but after saving up US $495 for her renewal application, her immigration lawyers filed the paperwork on her behalf on the 10th February and her application was pending review.
According to Huffington Post on 15th February, her brother and father were detained by ICE officers (Immigration and Custom Enforcement), and she hid in her closet crying, following a five hour stand-off with police officers and a brief hand-cuffing, Ms. Vargas was spared from custody as she told officers she had a pending DACA status.
Yesterday, Vargas spoke in Mississippi at an immigration press conference, designed to highlight the benefits immigrants can bring to a society where she called on Trump to help support her and other undocumented immigrants. Minutes after the conference had ended, en route home, she was pulled over and arrested by immigration authorities, in what was called a ‘targeted immigration enforcement action’ according to Public Affairs Officer for Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Thomas Byrd.
Daniela is one of 750, 000 ‘dreamers’ whose presence in the US is shrouded in uncertainty following the inauguration of Trump, whose campaign appeared to gain speed as it included more divisive and anti-immigrant rhetoric. It was during the campaign that Trump vowed to terminate the DACA program. Recently however Trump backtracked a bit on this and in a discussion with ABC news telling those covered by the DACA scheme that ‘they shouldn’t be worried’. Which draws incidents like Vargas’ into question. While anecdotal, the fact that someone can be following the recommended steps outlined by immigration policy while working and paying taxes and still find herself in custody facing deportation, makes believing the gentle tones and euphemisms coming from anti-immigration politicians all the more dangerous.
Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin voiced his concern on Twitter that the ICE may have followed her from the conference.
— Senator Dick Durbin (@SenatorDurbin) March 1, 2017
Speaking to The Guardian, one of her immigration attorney’s Nathan Elmore said that “she’s the sort of person the DACA legislation” hoped to help.
Ms Vargas is currently being held in custody in Louisiana. Elmore told NBC news they will file a motion for a bond hearing, but commented that it is more difficult than ever to gauge the process of ICE deportations. A federal immigration judge will decide what legal recourse she has left to stay in the country.