Donate

De Blasio Stands With Detained Journalist Jose Antonio Vargas

Jose Antonio Vargas
Dashed Arrow
Jose Antonio Vargas Getty Images

Three years ago, Jose Antonio Vargas, a Puliter Prize-winning journalist, revealed that he is an undocumented immigrant. His license was revoked, but he's been able to remain in the United States. Until he decided to report on the undocumented immigrant crisis in Texas.

Vargas, who refers to himself as "the most privileged undocumented immigrant in the country," was detained by Border Patrol when he tried to leave McAllen Airport. From the NY Times:

Mr. Vargas wrote recently that he did not realize until he was here that he would have to cross through a Customs and Border Protection checkpoint to leave the Rio Grande Valley. Mr. Vargas travels on a valid Philippine passport, but it has no current United States visa in it...

Mr. Vargas insisted he never intended to be detained when he came to South Texas but his supporters were working hard — on Twitter and at a news conference in front of the Border Patrol station where he was held — to use the publicity to advance their demands for fewer deportations of illegal immigrants living in the country and more protections for the children crossing recently.

Various groups are demanding his release, including United We Dream, which said, "Once again, the Border Patrol has proven to be a rogue agency after arresting Jose Antonio, a low-priority case for detention and deportation. Our undocumented community along the border is trapped within its own country, unable to leave and surrounded by checkpoints. 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."

The Times adds, "His apprehension poses a dilemma for the Obama administration, which will now have to decide how to handle his case at a time when the border situation has made all decisions about immigration high profile and politically fraught."

Mayor de Blasio just issued this statement:

I stand in solidarity with journalist and advocate Jose Antonio Vargas—an exemplary man whose tireless work has helped raise awareness around the lives of millions of undocumented immigrants living on American soil. Jose Antonio’s detainment today at a Texas airport, close to where he was working to document the plight of refugees, shows how our immigrant enforcement agencies are failing to use their discretion and detaining long-time immigrants who do not pose a threat to our security.

Jose Antonio has spent most of his life in the United States, he was educated by American schools, went on to receive a Pulitzer Prize while working as a journalist at the Washington Post, and eventually disclosed his undocumented status to advocate for a much-needed debate around citizenship. He exemplifies what America is about. I call for his quick release and hope that he can stay in the country that has been his home and to which he has contributed so much.

Featured in News