Immigration activist Vargas detained and released in Texas

AUSTIN Texas Tue Jul 15, 2014 7:22pm EDT

Journalist and director of film ''Documented'', Jose Antonio Vargas, poses for a photograph in Los Angeles, California in this June 18, 2014, file photo.    REUTERS/Kevork Djansezian/Files

Journalist and director of film ''Documented'', Jose Antonio Vargas, poses for a photograph in Los Angeles, California in this June 18, 2014, file photo.

Credit: Reuters/Kevork Djansezian/Files

Related Topics

AUSTIN Texas (Reuters) - Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas, an undocumented immigrant and prominent activist, was detained for several hours on Tuesday after being stopped at a security checkpoint at an airport in the border city of McAllen, Texas.

The U.S. Border Patrol said agents apprehended Vargas "after he stated that he was in the country illegally." He was later released on his own recognizance and provided with a notice to appear before an immigration judge.

Vargas, 33, who has lived for years in the United States without proper papers, has made himself a focal point of debate about immigration with frequent media appearances and testimony last year before a U.S. Senate committee.

He has called himself one of the most privileged undocumented immigrants in the United States, who hides in plain sight, pays his taxes, and, because of his notoriety, speaks on behalf of millions of immigrants in the country.

Vargas was in the Texas border area to visit a shelter for Central American children who fled their countries to escape heightened levels of violence, said United We Dream, an immigration activist group for which Vargas was working.

In an article on Friday, he wrote that his notoriety had shielded him, but each flight was a gamble because he lacked a visa.

"I am not sure if my visibility will continue to protect me - not here, not at the border," he wrote in Politico.

In the article, he said he was outraged by media coverage of the child migration issue and wanted to showcase his own story during the visit to McAllen.

'DON'T KNOW WHAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN'

On Tuesday, Vargas posted a picture of himself holding a passport of his native Philippines and a miniature copy of the U.S. Constitution on a Facebook page for Define American, an immigration rights group he co-founded, as he was about to go through airport security in McAllen for a flight to Los Angeles.

"I don't know what's going to happen," wrote Vargas.

Another photo posted soon afterward showed a man identified as Vargas being placed in handcuffs by uniformed personnel.

Vargas has traveled extensively throughout the United States without any U.S. government-issued identification and using his Philippines passport, which does not contain a visa for staying in the country.

Vargas left the Philippines in 1993 when he was 12 to join his grandparents in California. He only discovered he had a fake green card when he applied for a driver's license at age 16. Vargas won a Pulitzer in 2008 as part of a team that covered the Virginia Tech shootings for the Washington Post. He revealed he was an undocumented immigrant in a 2011 essay in the New York Times Magazine.

In an interview with Reuters in June to coincide with his debut film, "Documented," Vargas said he had lived in fear of deportation.

"I've always been paranoid. I always felt like I had the word 'illegal' tattooed on my forehead," he said.

(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz, and Lisa Maria Garza in Dallas; Editing by Doina Chiacu, Jim Loney and Peter Cooney)

FILED UNDER:
We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Comments (16)
puppy55556 wrote:
Nu, so what is his status now? Apparently he’s not a US citizen or he’d have a US passport in addition to his Phillippines passport.

I think this information would be relevant to the discussion.

Jul 15, 2014 11:19am EDT  --  Report as abuse
datsneefa wrote:
send him back too

Jul 15, 2014 11:21am EDT  --  Report as abuse
Fearthenut wrote:
No one comments here because you cant write freely. The press has taken huge advantage of the 1st. ammendment but fears hearing from the people. A mirror image of government!!

Jul 15, 2014 11:24am EDT  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.