Daniela Vargas, a Dreamer in Jackson, Mississippi was arrested is now facing deportation after speaking out about how Donald Trump’s immigration policy has impacted her family.
Trump’s immigration policy has ramped up Obama era deportations and sidelined DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) protections for Dreamers, who are the children of undocumented immigrants brought here when they were younger than 16 years old.
Vargas boldly spoke to news organizations on Wednesday calling for protections and a path to citizenship for Dreamers in addition to the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States. She shared her experience hiding in a closet as ICE agents arrested her father and her brother outside of her home and broke their way into her house after obtaining a search warrant. They questioned her on her DACA status.
Vargas’ visa waiver expired in November and although she re-applied for status in February (since it took her time to raise the $495 visa fee), she was promptly arrested on Wednesday, pulled over after speaking with the press, and is she soon to be deported. She is currently being held at an ICE Detention Center in Jena, Louisiana. Immigrant youth activists have started a petition to free Vargas.
Vargas spoke to her attorneys about her detention, and they shared her statement:
“I don’t understand why they don’t want me. I’m doing the best I can. I mean I can’t help that I was brought here but I don’t know anything else besides being here and I didn’t realize that until I was in a holding cell last night for 5 hours. I was brought here. I didn’t choose to be here. And when I was brought here, I had to learn a whole new country and leave behind the one that I did know. And I barely knew that one. I feel, I strongly feel that I belong here and I strongly feel that I should be given a chance to be here and do something good and work in this economy.”
What is most disturbing about Vargas’ arrest is the fear and threat to stability that undocumented immigrants and their children are facing. Of course, President Obama’s deportation policies were similarly unyielding. However, Trump’s rhetoric around deportation has painted undocumented people as “other,” as he calls them dangerous and “bad hombres.”
When language and policy is used to intimidate and other a group of people, human rights violations are not far behind. These policies will drive undocumented immigrants deeper underground in the United States, making them fear for their lives and livelihood. A path to citizenship is the right and empathetic course of action, as many undocumented individuals have been in the US for many years.
It is inhumane to surveil, detain, and deport people like Daniela and her family. We must find compassion and protection for undocumented people in the US.
Photo Credits: Salon, WJTV